Great Explorations

To celebrate Arik Air’s 10th anniversary, Wings shines a light on the most exciting reasons to visit and explore each of its destination countries right now. From places to people, there are gems to be found throughout our route network.

Words Emma E Forrest

The world has changed enormously in the last decade – and so have the countries Arik Air’s planes touch down in. The African continent, in particular, has embraced the future, making the most of the opportunities created by digital developments (amongst others), to present a new and modern face to the outside world. From fashion to business, from music to tech and tourism, outsiders are looking with excitement to the real Africa. Every day, global perceptions move on from the tired and undeserved clichés that have been traditionally levelled at West and South African countries, to be replaced with the positive stories of imagination, entrepreneurship, creativity and forward-thinking that Wings covers every issue.

Arik Air is proud and excited about celebrating its 10th Anniversary connecting together and serving the countries on our route map. In this special 10th Anniversary feature, we pay tribute to the creativity and energy that has grown from a truly Afropolitan decade, sharing our tips for exploring the countries we fly to every day, so you can delve deeper in your destination and enjoy your trip all the more…

Nigeria

It might be the most prosperous country in Africa, with beautiful landscapes, a vibrant contemporary culture and one of the most successful film industries in the world, but tourists have yet to discover Nigeria in great numbers. The old and revered meets the latest and greatest here – explore traditional ways in the countryside and encounter cutting-edge contemporary Africa in its cities.

Africa On Film

Catch the best new cinematic talent at the continent’s annual film festival, hosted in various Nigerian cities, since its launch in Port Harcourt in 2010. AFRIFF has brought together more than 2000 industry guests, 500 workshop participants and 500-plus international entries from professional and amateur filmmakers, around the world. For more information, see Gallivanter (page 14).

Naija Kitchen

Broaden your culinary horizons with this Nigerian cooking, Android app. Naija Kitchen gives step-by-step recipes for traditional dishes from every ethnological grouping in Nigeria.
Available on Google Play

Tour De Force

Wings contributor and CNN African Journalist Of The Year Award in the Travel category, Pelu Awofeso is the author of Route 234, a collection of stories from Nigerian journalists detailing personal experiences while on journeys outside Nigeria. Pelu also runs tailored tours to destinations and events ranging from the Osun Osogbo Festival to Badagry. Buy his books on Amazon and follow him on social media, to keep your finger on the tourism pulse.
@TravelNextDoor

Slave History

The dark history of Nigeria’s slave trade is traced in the Slave History Museum at the 15th-century slave-trading warehouse in Badagry, with exhibitions that tell the story of the Esuk Mba Slave Market in Akpabuyo, and the way slaves were captured through to the abolition in 1807.
mobeeslaverelicsmuseum
badagry.net

Raising The Roof

Nobody parties like a Lagosian – if you can’t beat them, join them…

Start with sundowners at The View bar at Radisson Blu Hotel, and take in the coastal views. From there, head to Rue 80, at Maison Fahrenheit, a new boutique hotel on Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island (fahrenheithospitality.com). Move on to one of several V.I clubs. Caliente Club on Goriola Street is small but perfectly formed, with comparatively well-priced drinks. Don’t be alarmed to find people dancing on the sofas, shaking off a week of hard work. Around the corner, Club Quilox is all about flashing the cash with sleek private booths, live music acts and champagne and Remy aplenty.
clubquilox.com

 

cover_story_nigeria_ethical

Ethical Traveller
How to leave a positive footprint

Increased connectivity in intra-African air travel has wide-reaching positive benefits for local communities. Wings is proud to play a part in promoting travel in West Africa.
While the ease and affordability of exploring certain destinations improves over time, challenges remain – much more so for the majority of locals, than for us lucky visitors.
Why not give as much to a place as you get back from it, by supporting social initiatives, and using your purchasing power for good? Here are three ways to leave your mark:

Support A Social Project

Keep your eyes peeled for social enterprises, charities and initiatives designed to improve the lives of the poor, at your destination. Publicise their work on social media, or donate funds to projects.

Avoid Animal Exploitation

Steer clear of zoos and animal attractions with low standards, which often exhibit animals that have been drugged, to pose for photos. Also,  be sure that you don’t buy products made from endangered animals. Instead, spend some time and money on conservation initiatives such as the excellent Lekki Conservation Centre, near Lagos, Nigeria.
ncfnigeria.org/projects/lekki-conservation-centre

Buy Local

By all means, go to the mall and buy the big brands you love, but also spend time and money on locally-made brands, and in markets where most of the produce is locally-sourced. Your wallet makes the biggest impact on improving livelihoods.

Pomp & Pageantry

Visit these festivals before the rest of the world catches on

 

cover_story_nigeria_argungu

 

1 Argungu Fishing Festival
If fishing conjures up thoughts of serene afternoons perched on a river bank, behold Argungu, started in 1934 by the Emir of Argungu to welcome the Sultan of Sokoto.
Pitch up in February or March – confirmation of the date is often a last-minute affair – and watch a stampede of 20,000 competitors, armed only with calabashes, nets and their bare hands. To the frenetic tune of drummers in canoes, the fishermen dive in to the Matan Fada river to wrestle dugong-sized nile perch. The person who catches the largest fish will walk away with thousands of dollars in cash, prizes and fish dinners aplenty.

 

cover_story_nigeria_kano

 

2 Kano Durbar
Soldiers on horseback, acrobats, gun salutes, horns the size of waterpark slides, bejewelled camels, exotic animals, awe-inspiring displays of equestrian might and technicolour dreamcoats to make Joseph jealous? No, this isn’t Game of Thrones. Welcome to the Kano Durbar.

‘Durbars’, or military parades, are a centuries-old tradition celebrating the Muslim Emirs who head the kingdoms across northern Nigeria. The Kano durbar is the grandest of the lot. Celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the most important holiday in the Muslim calendar, the most recent was held on the 6 July 2016, featuring the reigning Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.

 

cover_story_nigeria_osun

 

3 Osun Osogbo
The week-long Osun Festival celebrates an Orisha goddess whose counterpart is found in mythologies around the globe: the goddess of love and fertility. She manifests as the goddess of the River Osun, honoured with a procession to the river, bearing offerings and flowers. The procession also lights 16 lamps that burn through the night. Because it is one of the most important Orisha festivals, the atmosphere is solemn. There’s a joyful mood in the air, though, which reaches its peak at a huge festival on the
last day.

 

cover_story_nigeria_calabar

 

4 Calabar Carnival
The annual Calabar Carnival is billed as ‘Africa’s largest street party,’ with up to 50,000 performers taking part in the dazzling floats and bands. Past governor Donald Duke introduced the concept of the carnival parade in 2000. It has since taken off, hosting musicians and performers including P-Square, Akon and comedian Julius Agwu. Book your tickets and hotel now and roll up around Christmas Day, from 23 to 27 December.
carnivalcalabar.com

Young & Restless

Nigeria’s population is overwhelmingly young. Plug into the energy at these famous urban events.

Gidi Culture Festival
Africa’s biggest beach festival with art, sport, music and local and international DJs is set for April 2017 at Eko Altantic.
gidiculturefestival.com

Felabration
A celebration of all things Fela Anikulapo-Kuti with art, music and debate, usually held in October, and focused around the New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos.
felabration.net

Social Media Week Lagos
Africa’s biggest tech, new media and business conference, with debate and workshops on how to connect and grow online.
socialmediaweek.org/lagos

Lens On Africa
Home-grown and international photography talent is celebrated at the annual Lagos Photo Festival, a month-long celebration of with events, talks, exhibitions and grand outdoor shows.
22 October to 23 November
lagosphotofestival.com

Lagos Fashion Week
When it comes to looking fresh, Nigerians don’t mess around. See what we mean by scoping out the best design talent, and hit some bubbly-fuelled after-parties.
lagosfashionanddesignweek.com

Arik Adventurer

Lagos

What makes your city so amazing?
The cosmopolitan nature of Lagos, its rich culture, heritage and fashion trail blazing,  as well as all the talented people living in the city.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
The Jos Plateau and Mambilla Hills in Adamawa State.

Number-one dish?
Vegetable soup and oatmeal fufu – it’s very healthy.

Best piece of advice for first-time visitors?
To be security-conscious, although Nigerians are generally warm and friendly people.

Best way to spend an evening…
I love nature. Lekki is one of the places I spend my evenings, at the nature conservation resort or visiting La Campagne Tropicana Beach.

Where else on the Arik route network would you like to visit and why?
As cabin crew, I’ve been to most Arik destinations, my favourite one is London – the best place for shopping.

United Kingdom

Thrilling cities, rolling countryside… a blend of the modern and historic

It was recently rocked by the narrow vote to leave the European Union, but this historic country remains welcoming, with a rich history and contemporary culture to explore. London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan, in particular, has declared the capital open to visitors – recently giving his tips for a trip to his local neighbourhood – a dip in England’s largest freshwater pool, the Grade II-listed Art Deco Tooting Bec Lido opened in 1906, and dinner at Lahore Karahi, his favourite curry house.

Skip the city

Three top day trips from London

onion domes, towers and minarets forming the roof of the royal pavilion palace in brighton england, King George IV's summer house and Regency folly

Onion domes, towers and minarets forming the roof of the royal pavilion palace in Brighton England, King George IV’s summer house and Regency folly

1 Brighton
Throw pebbles in the sea, play games on the pier, go shopping on its historic Lanes, dine at South Indian street-food restaurant Curry Leaf Cafe (curryleafcafe.com) and book a room with a sea view at the luxurious Grand Hotel (grandbrighton.co.uk). Plus, enjoy some of the most cutting-edge nightlife the UK has to offer.

Roman Baths with Bath Abbey reflection in Bath, England

Roman Baths with Bath Abbey reflection in Bath, England

2 Bath
Marvel at the grand Georgian architecture of the Royal Crescent, the Circus and the Assembly Rooms; soak in the waters at Bath Spa (thermaebathspa.com);
admire splendid historic costumes at the Fashion Museum (fashionmuseum.co.uk); and take a Ghost Walking Tour (ghostwalksofbath.co.uk) or Comedy Walk (bizarrebath.co.uk) for an alternative perspective on this beautifully preserved historical city.

cover_story_uk_margate

3 Margate
Visit the retro-chic theme park Dreamland (dreamland.co.uk) and seafront Turner Contemporary museum (turnercontemporary.org); eat ice creams on the huge golden beach; explore art galleries and vintage stores in the old town and sleep soundly at The Reading Rooms, a chic boutique B&B, set in an impressively grand, Grade II-listed townhouse.

2016

London, United Kingdom - October 27, 2013: Pond with ducks and Museum No 1 in the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew Gardens, London, UK).

London, United Kingdom – October 27, 2013: Pond with ducks and Museum No 1 in the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew Gardens, London, UK).

Is the Year Of The English Garden – and you can find some of the best in London: UNESCO World Heritage Site Kew Botanic Gardens (kew.org); Regents Park (royalparks.org.uk) and Chelsea Physic Gardens, created in 1673 to train apothecaries in the medicinal qualities of plants and home to 5,000 edible, useful, medicinal and historical plants.
chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk

Yes! He Khan!

London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, was voted in with the largest mandate of any politician in UK history – and is the first Muslim mayor of any major Western capital.

What’s New

Browse Just Opened for the lowdown on the latest, from food festivals and rooftop bars to pop-up boutiques and all kinds of art happenings.
justopenedlondon.com

High-tech Hotel

Eccleston Square Hotel near Victoria offers guests use of smart phones during their stay, with unlimited data and free international phone calls to France, Germany, Spain, Italy, USA, UK and Canada.
Rooms from £155.
ecclestonsquarehotel.com

165 million…

…is the number of cups of tea drunk in the UK every day, and while the old-fashioned cuppa is on the wane, tea’s time is coming again, in the form of herbal and speciality teas. Sip on a brew at one of Yumchaa’s tea houses (yumchaa.com); track down Good & Proper Tea’s mobile tea van (goodandpropertea.com); or order from Lucky Cup, a new company selling imaginatively titled hand-blended teas, including ‘Smoke On The Water’ with pine-smoked lapsang souchong and tropical ‘Into The Mangroove’.
luckycuptea.com

78%…

…is the number of London visitors who want
to explore beyond its most famous sites, according to research by London’s Tourist Board. To help them work out where to go, they asked local bloggers to give their tips for restaurants, stores and activities in 13 London areas, including Greenwich, Brixton, Crystal Palace, Islington, Stratford and Richmond.
visitlondon.com/areas

Arik Adventurer

London

Jorge Paixão
Manager GDS Control & Pricing

What makes your city so amazing?
London is alive and vibrant in a way that’s second to none.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
Cornwall.

Indispensable app or blog
BBC Weather.

Where to go to let your hair down…
The barbers.

Number-one dish?
Fish and chips.

Best piece of advice for first-time visitors?
Avoid the tube during rush hour and stand on the left at the escalators! Oh, and give £100 to the homeless.

Only one day in town?
Visit Covent Garden, have a pub lunch and walk everywhere.

Best way to spend an evening?
Go to the Southbank for a drink or just a stroll.

Where else on the Arik route network would you like to visit and why?
Dakar or Monrovia – I hear the surfing is good.

Angola

Tundavala Gap (in Portuguese, Fenda da Tundavala) is a viewpoint in the rim of the great escarpment called Serra da Leba. It is located some 18 km from the city of Lubango, in Hu?la province, Angola.

Tundavala Gap (in Portuguese, Fenda da Tundavala) is a viewpoint in the rim of the great escarpment called Serra da Leba. It is located some 18 km from the city of Lubango, in Hu?la province, Angola.

A best-kept tourism secret, with untouched beaches and wild escapes

A country on the up, Angola is recovering from years of civil strife – its infrastructure is being rebuilt, its parks repopulated, its economy fuelled by oil money. Changes are making it an easier place to travel to, though foreign visitors are still relatively rare, making it an undiscovered gem with 1,600km of coastline and glorious beaches, desert wilderness and stunning post-colonial cities to explore, almost all to yourself.

Explore Angola

This year’s new expedition through Angola’s realtively untravelled south, organised by adventure travel company Native Eye, has already sold out. So book now for next year. Over 11 days, you’ll meet the locals on travels that take in the capital, Luanda, contemporary and Portuguese colonial architecture in Lubango, prehistoric rock art, the desert oasis of Pediva, abandoned colonial settlements of Foz do Cunene and Angola’s largest National Park, Iona National Park.
nativeeyetravel.com

Angola

Angola

Point Break

Surf adventurers can hunt down the ultimate ride in Angola – the left-hand point break at Cabo Ledo is said to be one of the longest in the world, estimated at over 500 metres. The world-class waves are very consistent, but be sure you know what you’re doing – strong currents make this a safe surfer’s wave when the swell is big. Look for the old light house, and bring your own gear.

Avant-Afro
Angolan supermodel Maria Borges made fashion and hair history, when she was the first model to wear her hair in an afro during the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Sounds Of Angola
Semba, the country’s traditional soundtrack, combines classic Angolan rhythms played on the guitar with Portuguese folk music-inspired melodies, the tunes sung mainly in Kimbundu and Umbundu, two dominant local languages. Angola’s new energetic sound is Kuduro, a blend of traditional Kilapanga, Semba and Zouk rhythms with techno, samba and house.

Whistlestop Angola
Short on time? Take a 4×4 tour – Eco Tour will take you on a two-day trip that takes in the capital, breathtaking Kalandula Falls and the two Black Rocks of Pungo Andongo.
eco-tur.com

The Iron Palace Reopens
Luanda’s Palácio De Ferro – a unique, bright-yellow glass-and-iron building on Rua Major Kanyangulo in the downtown area of the capital, has been credited to Gustave Eiffel (or maybe one of his students). Myth has it that the building was built in the last decades of the 19th Century in France as an exhibition space, and was being shipped to Madagascar to be assembled there before the boat carrying it was shipwrecked on Angola’s Skeleton Coast.

The Palace has reopened its doors this year, following two years of reconstruction.

Benin

Surrounded by poverty and dilapidated building, a mosque rises on one the small pieces of ground that could be used for growing crops in the stilt village of Ganvie in the middle of Lake Nokoue in Benin

Surrounded by poverty and dilapidated building, a mosque rises on one the small pieces of ground that could be used for growing crops in the stilt village of Ganvie in the middle of Lake Nokoue in Benin

Colourful celebrations in a dynamic, multi-cultural society

This intensely spiritual country has emerged from a dark history linked to slavery as a bright and colourful nation of 10 million people. Voodoo is a major religion, which has been practised for 10,000 years and is followed by an estimated 40 per cent of the population, and has cast aside its mysterious and mythical image, with celebrations that involve flamboyant costumes, entrancing drumming and energetic dancing. Travel here to trace the country’s history in the Somba people’s mud turrets or post-colonial architecture, meet its future in the art scene in the port town of Ouidah, and see its natural beauty for yourself with a safari at Pendjari National Park in the north.

Angélique Kidjo

The country’s biggest music star is one of Africa’s biggest musical exports overseas. Kidjo’s a three-time Grammy Award-winner, with the latest for Best World Music Album at the 58th Awards in 2016; she currently has an autobiography, Spirit Rising – My Life, My Music, and a live album, Sings With The Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg. Not content with this, however, Angélique is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, visiting countries to help raise awareness of issues affecting women and children. Born in Benin, she says she feels “inseparable from her heritage”, and continues to empower young girls in countries in Africa through her Batonga Foundation for education, ‘transforming Africa one girl at a time’.
Find out more at batongafoundation.org.

In 2014, she discussed her philanthropic roles and music with Wings. We asked whether she’s ever been afraid or concerned about what effect being so fearless and forthright may have on her career? “To be honest, because I’m travelling so much, and because of my fame, I’m not the one in a dangerous place,” she replied. “There are some amazing people who are living in regions of conflict, war, dictatorship or extreme poverty who are standing up for what they believe, ready to go to jail and die for their beliefs. There are many places in the world where promoting girls’ access to education, vaccination and female empowerment is a death sentence. I admire those people so much. My job, talking on their behalf if they have no voice, is much simpler.”
kidjo.com

Works Of West Africa
The work of West Africa’s artists is celebrated in its first free contemporary art museum, the Fondation Zinsou, in the port town of Ouidah. The follow-up to the Fondation Zinsou Exhibition Centre in Cotonou, which has welcomed more than four million visitors including school children, the new museum opened in 2013 in the restored 1920s Afro-Brazilian Villa Ajavon as an international platform for the region’s art. Permanent exhibits by artists including Cameroonian self-portraits photographer Samuel Fosso, Benin-born photographer Romuald Hazoumé, Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly-Bouabré, Senegalese painter and sketcher Soly Cissé and Benin’s sculptor Cyprien Tokoudagba are showcased alongside exhibitions on African culture past and present, paying tribute to everything from vinyl covers to fashion movements.
fondationzinsou.org

Voodoo Child
To get an insight into the country’s national religion, visit the annual Voodoo Festival in the former slave port of Ouidah. Participants dance themselves into trance state, animals are sacrificed and devotees cover their bodies with powered and palm oil during this colourful and highly charged week-long celebration from 10 January.

The Hunger Project
Benin is an increasingly stable democracy, but corruption, poverty and low adult literacy are roadblocks to its progress. The Hunger Project has been making inroads to change this situation for the better, through what the organisation calls its ‘Epicenter Strategy’, which unites 5,000 to 15,000 local community members in rural areas into clusters to create an ‘epicenter’. These dynamic centres of community mobilisation and action serve as a focal point where the people’s energies and leadership converge with the resources of local government and NGOs. Over an eight-year period, an epicenter addresses hunger and poverty and moves towards sustainable self-reliance.
thp.org

cover_story_benin_train

Ebony Train

There may not be a public railway in Benin, but you can travel in style in one of two carefully refurbished 1920s carriages on the Train d’Ebène, or Ebony Train. The journey takes travellers 450km through Benin’s villages and rainforests on a single narrow-gauge track from city of Cotonou in the south to Parakou in the north. From 400 Fcfa.
hotels-benin.com

Arik Adventurer

Cotonou

Nnonyelum Nwaku Ibemere
Assistant Sales Manager

What makes your city so amazing?
It’s the largest city in Benin and the economic nerve centre of Benin Republic. You will find people from all over the world doing business here. We have four major points of interest which include Stade de l’Amitie, Cotonou Cathedral, Cotonou Central Mosque and L’ Ancien Port.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
Azalai Hotel De La Plage, a four-star hotel surrounded by the Cotonou Sea, with beautiful views to behold.

Where to go to let your hair down…
Obama Beach – great fun for the family.

Number-one dish?
Chep, with chicken or fish.

Best way to spend an evening?
Relax by the beach and savour the grandeur of nature. It is so amazing.

Where else on the Arik route network would you like to visit and why?
New York to watch the US Open Tennis Tournament, the last Grand Slam for the year.

Cameroon

beautiful tea plantations in the mountains of Malaysia. mountain green tea on the slopes of mountains of the Cameron highlands

beautiful tea plantations in the mountains of Malaysia. mountain green tea on the slopes of mountains of the Cameron highlands

Opening up to visitors, it’s Africa in a nutshell

Cameroon is proud to call itself ‘Africa in miniature’, and you can see why it earned its sobriquet. As well as 250 ethnic groups living side-by-side, it offers a long stretch of beautiful coastline, mountain, rainforest, desert and wildlife, including gorillas and elephants. Still relatively off the beaten track for tourists, visit now before the crowds arrive…

Best Beach
Kribi serves up the coast’s most chilled-out beach vibes, with its golden beaches and crystalline water and fish market – where the catch of the day is pulled from the sea and popped straight on the grill.

Beau – Small Town, Big Tech Dreams
This small city is set to become the country’s new tech hub. With a university that nurtures tech entrepreneurs, and a spirit of innovation, it has become home to more than 50 new digital start-ups in the last five years, including job-search site Njorku, app Feem, ActiveSpaces and Colorfluid.

The Cardiopad
And for an example of the practical use of technology to change and improve lives, look no further than Cameroonian engineer Marc Arthur Zang, inventor of the Cardiopad – a touchscreen medical tablet that enables heart examinations such as ECGs to be carried out in remote, rural locations, and sent to experts for interpretation and diagnosis. Zang developed the Cardiopad aged 24, and is now CEO of the Youndé-based company bringing it to market, Himore Medical. He recently won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering. Find out more at
himore-medical.com

Who’s Here
There are 250 ethnic groups in Cameroon, including the Baka hunter-gatherer pygmy communities who live in Lobéké National Park, to the Koma people who live in the Atlantika Mountains, only accessible by foot.

Wild Life
You’ll get your future told by a crab sorcerer and see elephants and lions as part of the 4×4 tour in Waza National Park, a short flight from Douala.
camtours.org

Mount Cameroon
Visit the country’s highest mountain – an active volcano which erupted in the last five years. Climb to the top for spectacular views of lava flows, crater lakes, caves and waterfalls.
www.mount-cameroon.org

10,299mm

This is the average annual rainfall in the village of Debundscha, at the foot of Mount Cameroon – the sixth wettest place on Earth, and the second wettest place on the African continent, behind San Antonio de Ureca in Equatorial Guinea.

Arik Adventurer

Douala

Gladys Nzele-Ngu
Station Manager

What makes your city so amazing?
Its peaceful nature and the very welcoming people.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
Mount Cameroon and Limbe’s accessible beaches and botanical gardens.

Where to go to let your  hair down?
La Cigale, Bonanjo, close to Hotel La Falaise.

Number-one dish?
Charcoal-grilled fresh fish with fried ripe plantain.

Best piece of advise for first-time visitors?
Only use cabs and be watchful, as you would in any other city.

Only one day in town?
Visit King Dika Akwa’s Palace, Statue de la Nouvelle Liberté, RondPoint, Douala and Musée Maritime, Bonanjo, close to Méridien Hotel.

Best way to spend an evening?
Brasilia Tropical, Banapriso, Le Senat, Akwa.

Where else on the Arik route network would you like to visit and why?
Monrovia in Liberia, based on its historic background.

Gabon

Photo of bee eater standing on a twig

Photo of bee eater standing on a twig

Forests, waves and whales in ‘Africa’s Eden’

This small country is tipped as a future go-to safari destination, or ‘Costa Rica of Africa’, with its enticing range of of rainforests, savannahs, mangroves, lagoons and beaches. Gabon boasts 13 National Parks, and much of the country is covered in some of the most diverse tropical rainforest in the world, home to more than 8,000 plant species, 600 different types of bird and 20 species of primate and the largest population of forest elephants on the continent.

Cycle La Tropicale
Gabon’s annual La Tropicale is the continent’s biggest international bike race. Professional and amateur cyclists from across the world ride almost 1,000km on different stages through the countryside.
tropicaleamissabongo.com/en

The Lion Walks Tonight
West Africa’s lion populations are in decline, but camera footage captured in 2015 at Batéké Plateau National Park in south-eastern Gabon has inspired hope among conservationists that the King Of The Jungle is reestablishing itself in the country, after the last known lion in the region was shot in 1990. Damian Aspinall, chairman of The Aspinall Foundation, told Africa Geographic: “We don’t yet know if the individual observed in Batéké is a remnant of the historical lion population in the area or a transient individual that has crossed the Congo River [and has] travelled a considerable distance through the Congolian savannah. We hope for further sightings.”

Going For Gold
Just as we send this celebratory issue of Wings to press, Anthony Mylann Obame – taekwondo fighter, 2013 World Champion and Gabon’s first ever Olympic medallist at the London 2012 Olympics, where he won Silver – is competing to go one better and bring home the Gold for Gabon. He is a proud role model for the country, whose population is a mere 1.7 million, and hopes his victory has helped inspire many young people to succeed in sport. “It is something grand to make history in your country and to be a role model for young people. Today, I can support the young ones with material and can motivate them, make them believe that they can succeed, even if our country is very small,” Obame said.

Changing The Story
“Books For Africa is a simple idea, but its impact is transformative,” says Kofi Annan, former U.N. Secretary General. “For us, literacy is quite simply the bridge from misery to hope.”

Since its founding in 1988, Books For Africa has shipped more than 27 million textbooks and library books to 48 African countries. The group works to deliver reading material to children in Libreville, and will ship to any location in Africa where a sponsor is ready to receive and distribute books.
booksforafrica.org

A Goal For Gabon

Gabon will play host to the 2017 Africa World Cup football championships in January and February, and hopes are high for a star turn from one of the hottest properties in European football, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, of Borussia Dortmund. Allez Les Panthères!

5,000

The number of gorillas and chimpanzees that live in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park. Track them down on a tour.
www.responsibletravel.com

Senegal

cover_story_senegal_dance

Surfing, twitching and heart-opening music…

With golden beaches and bountiful bird life, Senegal is full of natural beauty as well as artistic talent. The country is famous for its musical heritage, with legendary ambassadors like Youssou N’Dour lighting up music venues in Dakar, and bringing the scene onto the international stage. Senegalese rhythms spill into a myriad of new genres from hip-hop to more eclectic electronic sounds. It’s also home to a booming surf scene – the continent’s first surf brand, Bantu Wax, even set up its flagship store on a Dakar beach.

cover_story_senegal_threads

Fresh Threads

An ambitious project designed to nurture creativity in an area around the remote village seven hours’ drive from Dakar, Thread is an artist residency and cultural centre. Integral to Thread’s programming are partnerships and projects with a widening community in Tambacounda, Senegal, and abroad. A huge success was their recent festival, Festival de l’Union, organized by Negga Dou to celebrate the diverse cultural practices in Tamba. It highlighted each of the 10 ethnic groups, in tandem with large concerts for the vibrant hip-hop scene.
thread-senegal.org

Oh Snap!

Senegal is teeming with creative collaborations. One of these is a series of portraits of Dakrois dancers. Seeking to elevate appreciation for dance, photographer Siaka S. Traoré photographs dancers in their natural environment, with just one directive –you guessed it – “Dance!”
theyoungartcollector.com

Dakar Fashion

The city’s annual Fashion Week
is a showcase for fashion from all over West Africa, with designers from Senegal, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, Cameroon – you don’t have to have a front-row ticket to take part here, either: anyone can join in the events and street parties throughout the city.
www.dakarfashionweek.com

One To Watch

Selly Raby Kane
Music stars including Solange Knowles, The Nubians and the Daara J family are fans of Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane. Taking inspiration from cartoons, nature, technology and art, she launched her label in 2012 and has a fresh and futuristic take on African fashion, her clothes featuring PVC panels, insects and birds.
sellyrabykane.com

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Surfing Senegal

When Africa’s first surf brand, Bantu Wax, set up its flagship store on the beach in Virage Beach, Dakar, it cemented the country’s reputation as one of the best places to surf in Africa.
bantuwax.com

Senegal Music Scene
The musical country that gave us Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal has so much more to offer, with new musical talent constantly emerging from Dakar and further afield. Ones to watch include avant-garde electronic-music producer Stephen Ibaaku Bassene.

Just 4 U
This live music venue in Dakar is a great place to get your first flavour of the city’s music scene.

Arik Adventurer

Dakar

Abdou Ciss
Passenger Service Agent

What makes your city so amazing?
Visitors can go to HLM market, the most popular market, where you can get everything you need such as clothes, jewellery, toys, and gifts. Sandaga market and marché Kermel are good for handicrafts, masks, gold and silver.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
The Monument de la Renaissance Africaine.

Number-one dish?
Thiebou Diene, a fish dish.

Only one day in town?
Go sightseeing, starting from Independence Square, to Soumbedioune, Magicland, cornice and Point des Almadies.

Best way to spend an evening?
The pubs and clubs of the chi chi area of Les Almadies. It’s also the Westernmost point all of Africa.

Where else on the Arik route network would you like to visit and why?
South Africa, because it is Mandela country. I want to see many things in Johannesburg
and Pretoria.

The Gambia

Beach in Gambia

Beach in Gambia

A tiny country with wonderful waterways and famously welcoming hosts

Small in size but big on hospitality, this strip of land that stretches along the River Gambia has been stable since independence, allowing it to build a name for flop-and-drop holidays on the beach, attracting European tourists with all-inclusive holidays. There’s much to explore – the country is home to 570 bird species, found in national parks including the Abuko Nature Reserve, Tanji Bird Reserve or Marakissa River Camp.

Jon Banfield - March 06

Jon Banfield – March 06

Luxury Lodging

There’s plenty of luxury accommodation for travellers to choose from in The Gambia, ranging from Sheraton Gambia to the Coco Ocean Resort And Spa. But for a unique take on luxury, while also having the chance to discover the people and wildlife of the country, you should head to Mandina Lodge, Makasutu. Set against the backdrop of the ‘sacred forest’, you can relax by the pool during the day, go on a guided walk to spot monitor lizards and abundant birdlife, observe the local oyster women on their daily collections and visit Makasutu’s very own Marabou Medicine Man, before settling down to a romantic evening meal by fire light.
mandinalodges.com

100

The number of bird species spotted at Footsteps Eco Resort in Gunjur, including storks, birds of prey, terns, cuckoos, nightjars, rollers, bee-eaters and kingfishers. And egrets? They’ve had a few.
footstepsinthegambia.com

Five Gambia Getaways

Lose yourself at these solitary spots

1 Sandele Eco Retreat
A pearl on the Atlantic coast, just off the tranquil beach of Kartong, near Kartong village, the Sandele Eco Retreat is a haven of relaxation. Choose from eight lodges, four of which float on the Mandina Batong, a tributary of the Gambia River, and trek, seek out wildlife or just chill to your heart’s content.
sandele.com

2 Gambia Horse And Donkey Trust
This Trust, situated on the south bank of the Gambia River, is doing amazing things to educate the farming community on how to best care for their animals, and also offers mobile veterinary services. If you visit, you can also take a boat trip to Baboon Island, the longest-running rehabilitation project in Africa and founded by the same people who run the Trust.
gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk

3 Kerr Batch (And Wassu) Stone Circles
If you want an off-the-beaten-track experience in a spiritual hideaway, rent a guide and/or a vehicle to get you to the Kerr Batch Stone Circles. The stones are thought to be built around the burial mound of kings and chiefs, and it’s a moving and magical spot, especially at sunset.
ncac.gm/kerr.html

4 Leybato Hotel Bar & Restaurant, Leybato
This small, independent bar, restaurant and now hotel has been serving tourists who stumble upon it for around 30 years. Starting out as a small shed serving fish, it’s now an 18-room hotel with great facilities. Good local food, drumming lessons and breathtaking nature a bound in this Gambian getaway.
leybatohotel.com

5 Kunta Kinteh Island
Formerly James Island, and now renamed, this small island 30km from the river mouth near Juffereh housed the historical James Fort, built in 1651, and was once one of the main former slave islands. Juffereh is also where Alex Haley got the inspiration for his book Roots, about the slave, Kunta Kinte. Arrange an independent boat trip over to avoid the crowds: walking around the ruins of the fort with only one or two other people is a powerful experience.
accessgambia.com

Arik Adventurer

Banjul

Emmanuel Bass
Security / Cargo Supervisor

What makes your city so amazing?
It’s surrounded by the river, where one can hang out with friends.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
Janjanbureh Slave House, Albreda and Juffureh, Kunta Kinteh Island
and Bakau Kachikally crocodile pool.

Best piece of advice for first time-visitors?
The best time to visit is from December to April, peak tourist season.

Best way to spend an evening?
The Senegambia area for an evening stroll.

Where else on the Arik route network would you like to visit and why?
New York. I would love to take my family to visit the Big Apple, it’s such an iconic city.

Sierra Leone

Hippo showing off its tusks

Hippo showing off its tusks

A compact melting pot with unspoilt beaches and wildlife

You can holiday in paradise, away from the crowds in Sierra Leone. Dogged by civil war in the 1990s, and the ebola epidemic in the 2000s, the country has yet to build up a mass tourism culture, so you’ll have the luxury of near-exclusivity as you relax with a cool beer on the beach, dine on a supper of freshly grilled lobster or explore the mountains. Visit, and you’ll be one of the first to trek the region’s highest mountain, spot rare and exotic wildlife and go island-hopping.

Company Of Chimpanzees
Travellers can stay on site at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in the Western Area Peninsula National Park, just outside Freetown. Two of the lodges are at canopy level, so you can look out to the rainforest – with its butterflies, birdlife and wild chimpanzees.
tacugama.com

visitsierraleone.org
While you’re visiting, make sure you consult this one-stop online shop for tapping into this country’s huge potential,
with practical trips, listings
and tours.

Spotlight On Sierra Leone
Get the edited highlights of this intriguing country on a Native Eye trip. Starting in the markets and slave museums of Freetown, the expedition heads to the forests of Tiwai Island and Gola, and nearby primate community.
nativeeyetravel.com

10

The number of breathtaking beaches within easy reach of the capital, Freetown, where you’ll be welcomed by white sand and turquoise waters – so perfect, they were the setting for Bounty Bar’s 1980s ‘Taste Of Paradise’ adverts.

Say Hi To Hippos

Track down Diana and Colobus monkeys in the rain forest by day and the rare pygmy hippopotamus by night, on a trip to Tiwai Island, the largest of the islands in the Moa River. Tiwai Island National Park is a conservation area and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
tiwaiisland.org

Arik Adventurer

Freetown

Esther Yeama Yimbo
Supervisor, Ticketing And Reservation

What makes your city so amazing?
Beautiful beaches and festivals.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
The No. 2 River Beach – where you can see God’s handiwork, white sand and a beautiful view. Among others, Tokeh Beach with beautiful hotels and sea views; Bureh Beach, Banana Island; Bunce Island, with its big market for all your made-in-Sierra Leone goods.

Where to go to let your hair down?
Quincy’s Nightclub and The Edge or, for a quiet nightcap, Plan B.

The best place for food?
Café de la Rose and Crown Bakery And Confectionery.

Best piece of advice for first-time visitors?
Don’t try and cover everything in one trip. Find a neighbourhood and gently explore its bookshops and weekend markets.

Only one day in town?
View the city at the centre with its beauty, surrounded by hills and sea.

Liberia

Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, West Africa, seen from the top of the ruins of Hotel Ducor. The main streets of the peninsula are clearly visible.

Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, West Africa, seen from the top of the ruins of Hotel Ducor. The main streets of the peninsula are clearly visible.

White sands, island life and traditional tribes

Africa’s oldest republic also boasts the continent’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 and is credited for bringing peace and stability to a country riven by civil war. Liberia was struck hard by the recent Ebola outbreak, but tourists are slowly returning as the economy recovers, rediscovering its palm-fringed islands, thick jungles and the vibrant capital, Monrovia.

Fashioning A Future For Girls
Underprivileged girls are getting a leg-up at Liberian school, More Than Me Academy, a school in West Point, Liberia. Eric Coly, the CEO of Senegalese eco-friendly fashion label Le Dessein, wants to empower girls through education and commissions students at the school to draw portraits that are being integrated into the clothes designed by the label – with 25 per cent of the company’s profits being invested back into their education.
morethanme.org

Historic Harper
Get a glimpse of Liberia’s history in the coastal town of Harper. Founded by freed American slaves, its streets are now lined with crumbling grand mansions.

Capital Cocktails
You’ll find Liberia’s movers and shakers on the terrace at The Capital Room, a glamorous new bar set on the edge of a cliff at Mambo Point, with spectacular views over the Atlantic.
thecapitalroomafrica.com

Secret Surfing
For a holistic and sustainable surf holiday, head to the Kwepunha Surf Retreat, in Northern Liberia. You’ll enjoy a warm welcome, stunning silky beaches and world-class waves at Fisherman’s Point – and your visit will also contribute to the local economy. Be sure to buy one of the board bags made by local villagers.

Liberia Marathon

Runners are limbering up for the 2017 Liberia Marathon – 1,500 athletes joined the 2015 edition that was marked as a triumph over the Ebola epidemic.
liberiamarathon.com

Arik Adventurer

Monrovia

Augustine G. George
Passenger Service Agent

What makes your city so amazing?
There are very few tourist traps here, so you can really feel like a local and enjoy our true culture. We have great markets with beautiful textiles and handicrafts.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
Robertsport, where you can enjoy great surfing.

Where to go to let your hair down…
Literally, Brotherhood Barbing Shop located in the Paynesville, Soul Clinic area or if you are in the centre of Monrovia, at Zuus Barber Shop down Mechlin Street.

Number-one dish?
Rice and vegetable soup and fufu with soup.

Best piece of advice for first-time visitors?
There are a series of beautiful beaches surrounding Monrovia. Cece Beach is great for a long walk.

Best way to spend an evening?
Take a stroll along our beaches to experience the cool evening breeze and our amazing weather.

South Africa

cover_story_south_africa_train

Big Five safaris, colourful history, hospitable people

Where to start in South Africa? This African nation has many stories to tell – and plenty to see and do. With a strong infrastructure, it’s an easy place for visitors to navigate, whether tracking the Big Five on a safari, relaxing on a city break, following the wine route by bike or retracing the footsteps of its recent history at Robben Island.

View of a winery near Franschhoek in the Western Cape province of South Africa

View of a winery near Franschhoek in the Western Cape province of South Africa

Cape Cuisine

Foodies will revel in the choice of different culinary cultures in Cape Town. Must-try dishes include Cape Malay curry, in the Bo-Kaap district, a braai BBQ in the Gugulethu Township and traditional Xhosa specialities, including umpkoqoko or maize porridge. Then take a trip for wine tasting in Franschhoek Valley and Stellenbosch.

Fashion

One To Watch

MaXhosa
South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo’s signature knitwear is inspired by traditional Xhosa beadwork patterns. He first established his upmarket label MaXhosa to create formal wear that amakrwala (Xhosa initiates) can wear in the six months after their manhood initiation – it’s now sold in UK and Japan.
maxhosa.co.za

A Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching the surface of the waters off Puerto Lopez, Ecuador.

A Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching the surface of the waters off Puerto Lopez, Ecuador.

Whale Watching

You don’t have to get on a boat for whale watching on the Western Cape. You can spot them casually breaching from a coastal trek or restaurant terrace! Try Hermanus for the best chances of a spot.
hermanus.co.za/whale-watching

Travel By Train

If you can’t afford to splash out the R10,000-plus for the all-inclusive, wood-panelled railway opulence of the legendary Blue Train (bluetrain.co.za) and Rovos Rail (rovos.com) routes, you can get a more affordable all-inclusive sleeper experience on the Shosholoza Meyl Premier Class Sleeper Train from Joburg to Cape Town, for just R2,840.

Overnight At Madiba’s Place
You can experience a piece of South African history at the Nelson Mandela Centre for Reconciliation in the Shambala Private Game Reserve, 160 miles north of Johannesburg. The home built for Mandela after his retirement is now a luxurious retreat that sleeps 12. From 70,000/night.
centreforreconciliation.co.za

Africa Design
Keep track of the latest design news and talent across the continent with Design Indaba, which runs a dynamic website and a series of conferences
and festivals.
designindaba.com

Relaunch Of An Icon
Singita Lebombo Lodge in Kruger, famous for its chic modern design, has had a makeover by designer Boyd Ferguson. The 13 luxurious open-plan suites, suspended above the N’wanetsi River, also uses locally sourced food and staff, and power from its own solar park. From $1,568 per person per night, full board.
singita.com

Cultural Ambassador
Johannesburg producer, singer-songwriter and rapper Spoek blends electronic, hip-hop and house influences, and is just one example of a whole new generation of musicians creating new South African sounds. He’s one of the African creatives from the worlds of fashion, film, music, literature, and photography, celebrated in Studio Africa, an initiative to promote African creativity by Italian jeanswear brand Diesel and Bono’s label, Edun.

Arik Adventurer

Johannesburg

Buti Joshua Moagi
Customer Service Agent

What makes your city so amazing?
Johannesburg is a vibrant and culturally rich city. It is larger, and more fast-paced than other cities in Gauteng province. It is extremely cosmopolitan.

Another spot in your country that’s a must see
The Nelson Mandela Bridge, Lesedi Cultural Village and the Soccer City Stadium.

Indispensable app or blog?
The Gautrain App and Johannesburg City Explorer.

Where to go to let your hair down
Visit Chaf Pozi Restaurant in Vilakazi Street.

Number-one dish?
Mala le mogodu.

Best piece of advice for first-time visitors?
Be aware of the bad traffic and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.

Best way to spend an evening?
Sandton Nelson Mandela Square, with access to the Gautrain. It’s full of shops, bars and restaurants (nelsonmandelasquare.co.za)

USA

Centre of innovation, with cool cities and sprawling countryside

It’s always a good time to visit the USA – there’s so much to see, from exciting megacities to a dramatic and diverse countryside. For cutting-edge trends in fashion, art and food, there’s no better place to start than Arik Air hub, New York. Expect a new atmosphere this year, as the nation trades in its first-ever African-American President, Barack Obama, for a new leader, in November.

NYC For Foodies

There are more places to eat out than ever, with a boom in NYC food halls. Try these latest hits:

Berg’n
A trendy food marketplace in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, with burritos, Filipino-inspired cuisine and pulled pork and brisket.
bergn.com

Eataly
This is a 40,000-square-foot Italian food outpost at 4 World Trade Center.
eataly.com

The Great Northern Food Hall
Nordic-inspired food hall inside Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall, created by chef Claus Meyer with bakery, Danish Smørrebrød rye sandwiches and granola.
grandcentralterminal.com

Gotham Market At The Ashland
Sister to dining destination Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen, this gastronomic space in The Ashland in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene will be home to pop-ups from local chefs and full-time food vendors, including Apizza Regionale (Italian fare); Flip Bird (rotisserie chicken); Mu Ramen (bowls of noodles, burgers and Japanese snacks) and popular Midtown barbecue restaurant, Mason Jar.
gothamwestmarket.com

Highlights for 2017…
…include a vast international food market on Pier 57 by Anthony Bourdain (bourdainmarket.com), and Staten Island’s first artisanal food hall, Empire Outlets Marketplace (MRKTPL). empireoutletsnyc.com

New Eye On New York

For great ideas, visit New York City’s tourism website, NYCgo.com – it’s just been given a revamp.

A view west through the Stoney Clove from the summit of Plateau Mountain in the Catskill Forest Preserve

A view west through the Stoney Clove from the summit of Plateau Mountain in the Catskill Forest Preserve

A Sight For Sore Eyes

Hit the Catskills for an unforgettable experience with North America’s longest and highest zipline canopy tour. The experience in Hunter Mountain will fire you between two Catskill mountain peaks at 50mph, 600ft above the ground.
www.ziplinenewyork.com

Cycle The City

Get an urban adventure by discovering Brooklyn by bike. Get Up And Ride offers tours to give travellers an insight into local art, gastronomy, marketplaces, parks and history.
www.getupandride.com

cover_story_usa_nyc

Arik Adventurer

New York City

Nouman Ali, GM
Finance & Administration — The Americas

What makes your city so amazing?
We’re the city that never sleeps. Really.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
Las Vegas.

Only one day in town…
Hit Times Square, Central Park, Herald Square, and hop on the Staten Island Ferry.

Best way to spend an evening?
Go to a rooftop bar, overlooking the Manhattan skyline while the sun sets.

Where else on the Arik route network would you like to visit and why?
South Africa (Cape Town, Durban etc) – for safari, beaches, and beautiful scenery.

Ivory Coast

Booming cities, stunning coastline and lush rainforest

Once known for cocoa exports and civil strife, French-speaking west Africa’s largest economy is booming, under President Alassane Ouattara, who was re-elected in a landslide victory last year. New malls, boutiques, clubs and luxury hotels including a striking new Radisson Blu hotel are opening their doors in its economic powerhouse, Abidjan. There’s a huge range of sights to see, from beach resorts such as the UNESCO-listed Grand-Bassam to World Heritage Site, Comoé National Park, to the remote but extravagant political capital, Yamoussoukro.

Fashion

Ones To Watch

Loza Maléombho
Watch Beyonce’s video, Formation, and you’ll spot clothes taken from Loza Maléombho’s Spring/Summer 2016 Zaouli collection, inspired by Guro Princess, Djela Lou Zaouli, from the Northern region of Ivory Coast. This Abidjan-based fashion designer ’s distinctive style has seen her work with H&M.
www.lozamaleombho.com

Laurence Chauvin Buthaud
Making a costume for pop star Keziah Jones kick started Laurence Chauvin Buthaud’s label, Laurence Airline. After studying and working in fashion in Paris, she returned to the Ivory Coast to set up her menswear line, known for its unusual prints, now stocked in France, Italy, Nigeria, South Africa, Japan and the USA.
www.laurenceairline.com

158 metres…

…That’s the height of the basilica at the world’s tallest church – Notre-Dame de la Paix, the church built in Ivory Coast’s administrative capital Yamoussoukro, for former president Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Plus, each of the 7,000 seats in its nave has its own personal air-conditioning system. www.ndpbasilique.org

Abidjan On Instagram
From giant prawns and sunset cocktails to idyllic villages,
this account gives a colourful spotlight on the best of Abidjan and further afield.
instagram.com/abidjan.places

Hot Chocolate
Finally, the world’s largest producer of cocoa gets the chocolate, too. French chocolatier Cémoi is opening a chocolate factory – usually the raw beans are exported.
cemoi.fr/en

Iconic Hotel
The stunning Hôtel Ivoire, which overlooks the Ebrie lagoon and the Plateau, has had an exciting history, hosting dignitaries, soldiers and hotel guests since it was built in 1963 and beautifully renovated in 2011. It’s now a Sofitel.
sofitel.com

Best Blog
Orphelie Thalmas was named the country’s best blogger for Rythmes d’Afrique, a compelling arts and culture site covering photography, art, literature, fashion, music and more on the continent (in French). rythmafriq.com

Arik Adventurer

Abidjan

What makes your city so amazing?
Cultural diversity. We have people and food from all over the world.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
La Basilique Notre Dame de Yamoussoukro. The Guinness Book Of World Records lists it as the largest church in the world.

Where to go to let your hair down?
Assinie Mafia beach resort. Located 80km east of Abidjan, with its swaying palm trees and soft sand, it’s paradise on earth.

Number-one dish?
Attieke poisson braisé, a tasty fried-fish dish.

Where else on the Arik route network would you like to visit and why?
New York, to see the Statue Of Liberty.

Ghana

Breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and a vibrant tourism scene

That Ghana was the first African country to earn a visit from President Obama speaks about its reputation as a democratic and stable country. For decades, foreign holidaymakers have come here to languish on golden beaches and enjoy the traditional side of the country as well as its modern edge. There’s plenty to discover, here, with beautiful natural attractions as well as the vibrant capital Accra, with its buzzing art, fashion and music scenes. It’s no wonder that the country’s dubbed ‘Africa for beginners’.

Hotel Meets Art Gallery

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast, Accra
This new five-star hotel will boast the largest spa in West Africa when it opens this September, with 3,000 metres of treatment rooms and relaxation areas. It’s also home to a shopping mall and a contemporary art gallery, Gallery 1957, which represents artists including Jeremiah Quarshie, Yaw Owusu, Serge Attukwei Clottey and Zohra Opoku. From £223 per room, per night.
kempinski.com/en/accra/hotel-gold-coast-city

Come Away With Me

Pack a bottle of water and a camera, and let a great tour company do all the work…

Off The Tourist Trail
Nima is one of the most impoverished areas of Accra, but also a prime example of a community in which cultural and religious diversity reigns. Founded by Charles Sablah – born and bred in Nima – the tours lasts just two hours and takes you to a primary school and for lunch at a Chop House. Interested in ‘the real Accra’? Sign up, sign up.
Duration: Two hours
Average cost: 25GhC per person per hour approx. $7.00
ghana-nima-tours.yolasite.com

Royal Treatment
Greet a village chief at the Akuapim Range above Accra. You’ll start at the Aburi Botanical Gardens and a craft market, before being received at the palace to receive a traditional blessing and witness a Durbar complete with drumming and dancing.
Duration: Day trip
Average Cost: Starting at $305 per person,
easytrackghana.com

Life Of The Party
Be whisked away on a Cultural Festivals Of Ghana tour. Start with sightseeing in Accra, through to the Bakatue Festival, Elmina, Cape Coast Castle, Kakum National Park, and the Akwasidae Festival. Along the way, you will be bestowed a Ghanaian name. Hint: It’s not ‘Chale.’
Duration: 10 Days
Average Cost: Starting at $1,877, depending on
group size. landtours.com

Beachy Keen
For sand, surf and sound systems blasting out Highlife and Hiplife, hit La Pleasure Beach. Visit on a Wednesday to enjoy the sights and sounds of reggae night at this golden beach at Labadi, a township on the southeast side of Accra.

Kakum By Canopy
Get a bird’s-eye view on the rainforest from the tree canopy walkway in Kakum National Park, a 500m-long swinging bridge between the tallest trees. You’ll see porcupines, olive colobus monkeys and much more.
kakumnationalpark.ghana-net.com

Ghanaian Jewel
A pocket paradise, the lively fishing port of Elmina offers visitors some heavenly beaches, alongside some of the oldest colonial buildings in the region and a Dutch fort –and it’s all just waiting there, a mere three hours’ drive from Accra.

Frolic In The Foliage

The biggest attraction in the small town of Aburi is the area’s botanical gardens, opened in 1890. Around 30 kilometres from Accra, there’s a school of horticulture within the park, and with 10 lawns, over 300 plant types and over 100 acres of natural forest and nature trails, you’ll have more than enough to satisfy your inner botanist.

Accra’s Answer To Sex In The City
Carrie Bradshaw’s girl-gang has met its match in An African City, a TV show based in Accra about the lives of five sassy and single Afropolitan career women from different parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Creator Nicole Amarteifio developed the series as a way of telling the true story of real, modern, urban African women.
www.anafricancity.tv

Fashion

Made In Ghana
Social responsibility is at the heart of Ghana’s growing fashion industry, with glamorous brands tapping into, and empowering, local talent…

Yevu Clothing
Yevu Clothing uses Ghana-made fabric, giving a boost to local micro enterprises, micro producers and artisanal manufacturers.
yevuclothing.com

Hi On Life
Swedish fashion label Hi On Life has moved its HQ to Accra, where it uses Ghanaian tailors and craftspeople to create its distinctive designs.
hionlifestore.com

Heel The World
Social enterprise and footwear brand Heel The World combines traditional African shoemaking skills and traditional European craftsmanship, as well as
offering funding and help to local start-ups.
htwshoes.com

KISUA
An online platform to showcase African fashion, KISUA – which means ‘a well-dressed person’ in Swahili – creates collaborations with African designers. Former banker Sam Mensah set up the site to promote African fashion and create opportunities for workers across Africa.
kisua.com

Ghana Go Big

Biggest
In the Volta region of the country, lies the world’s biggest man-made lake. It’s 250 miles long and covers 3,283 square miles.

Largest
Visit the largest market in West Africa: Kejetia market, located in Kumasi.

First
Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain freedom from colonial rule. It gained its independence on 6 March, 1957.

Fastest
In 1991, Ferdie Ato Adoboe set a world record by running 100 meters backwards in 13.6 seconds.

Arik Adventurer

Accra

Femi Asun
Sales/Station Manager

What makes your city so amazing?
La Tante DC 10, a much-loved restaurant set in a disused aircraft.

Another spot in your country that’s a must-see?
Peduase Valley Resort in Aburi. Complete with pool and health facilities, it’s a perfect weekend escape from the city (peduasevalleyresort.com).

Where to go to let your hair down?
Soho, a sushi restaurant and bar in Marina Mall (facebook.com/sohobarsushi)

Number-one dish?
Kenkey, a staple food made with cornmeal, and served with fish.

Best piece of advice for first-time visitors?
The city is secure, but don’t let your guard down.

Best way to spend an evening?
Have a meal and drink at Rhapsody’s, a sports bar and restaurant at Accra Mall.

AFRICA ON TAPP

The TSTMKRS app is an expertly curated gateway to entertainment in Africa.
Founder Charae Robinson curates her favourite trips

Designed to be your cool friend in every African city, the TSTMKRS app offers curated experiences in cities including Accra, Dakar, Johannesburg, Kigali, Lagos, and Nairobi. Users can book different activities or organise an entire trip – from a pop-up dinner with chef Selassie Adetiba in Ghana or an ultra-light plane ride over the Senegalese coast curated by DakarLives – giving them an instant inside track to where they are.

Tastemakers Africa’s CEO Cherae Robinson came up with Tastemakers Africa four years ago, when she was travelling for work across Africa. “What I discovered time and time again, from Lagos to Johannesburg, Nairobi to Addis Ababa, was an entirely different vision of Africa than what was being shared with the world,” she explains. “From rooftop bars with filmmakers in Nairobi to road tripping to Lesotho with two South African DJs and some friends, I was introduced to young ‘tastemakers’ who had access to experiences that most tourists never touched.”

In response to demand from friends, she set up a Tastemakers Tour Of Ghana. It was an instant hit, but Robinson didn’t see it as much of a viable business as the app – or as effective a means to achieve her aim of changing perceptions. “TSTMKRS is more disruptive. It puts access to authentic, premium experiences in Africa – selected by curators who live and breathe these destinations – at your fingertips. It’s changing what the world thinks about Africa, one trip at a time.”

As well as developing more features for the app, Robinson’s team is growing, with General Managers, Curators, and Experience Scouts in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, and South Africa. “Ultimately, we’ll be guided by the needs of our users and the network of experience partners, helping us see Africa beyond poverty and safaris.”

TSTMKRS
10 Cool Things

1 Ouidah Voodoo Festival
Benin, 10 January, 2017
Way below the radar for most, the Ouidah Voodoo Festival gives a glimpse of West Africa’s oldest traditions in one of the most culturally rich countries in the world.

2 Coco Ocean Resort & Spa
Gambia
Gambia is fast becoming a hotspot for its plentiful beaches, amazing food, and sunshine. Your passport into it all is boutique hotspot Coco Ocean Resort & Spa. Artfully decorated like a Miami Mansion in its heyday – you may not want to leave.
cocoocean.com

3 Kora Nightclub
Serekunda, Gambia
Banjul neighbourhood favourite, Kora, is named after the instrument that dominates Gambian music. Kora epitomises the laid-back vibe of The Gambia. It’s one of those venues that just keeps you feeling sexy with great lighting and vibes. This is where the networking happens, social politics are discussed over shisha and the evening’s move is finally decided after a fair amount of pre-game vibes.
On Facebook

4 Olma Colonial Suites
Accra, Ghana
A boutique hotel that just completed an expansion, adding two bedroom suites to its already stunning collection of rooms, Olma is bringing modern luxury in the heart of Osu (www.olmacolonialsuites.com). After a day of selfies taken by the palm-flanked pool, walk down 13th Road to Burger And Relish, the king of cocktails and gourmet burgers in Accra. It’s perfect for stumbling home.
On Facebook

5 Chale Wote Street Art Festival
Accra, Ghana
The annual festival held the third weekend of August every year continues to strive and thrive. Bringing nearly 10,000 people into the James Town historic district, this counter-cultural force is a place where art, fashion, music, and advocacy collide.
accradotaltradio.com/chale-wote-street-art-festival

6 Maame Adjei
Ghana
Certified ‘Ghana Girl‘ Maame Adjei is a fashion-designer-turned-actress, who is now taking the travel world by storm with her new series, Girl Going Places. When not showing us the nooks and crannies of Ghana, you can find her curated experiences in the TSTMKRS mobile app.
instagram.com/msadjei

7 Le Berger de l’Île de Ngor
Ngor Island, Senegal
The gallery and creative home of engineer, painter and poet Abdoulaye Diallo greets you like a pulsing energy on the shores of Ngor Island. Provocative and passionate about beauty, Mr Diallo managed to travel, dream, and transform the abstract into concrete, making the invisible visible.
Visiting the gallery, with the lapping waves between Ngor Beach and Ngor Island just outside the window is a magical way to spend an afternoon.
lebergerdelile.com

8 Le Phare des Mamelles Friday Nights
Dakar
Local socialite, marketer, and good-time seeker Bintou Seck has created an amazing pop-up venue at the Mamelle Lighthouse in Dakar. Each Friday from about 6pm to 11pm, Dakar’s cool crowd of artists, expats, entrepreneurs and lovers of the breeze gather to imbibe cocktails, grilled bites and epic sunset views.

9 Grill At The Pent Abuja
Nigeria
Never be bored on a Sunday. Bankhead Entertainment, one of Lagos’ premier nightlife promotional planners, has taken this underground rooftop party at Cova Lounge in Victoria Island and expanded it to the capital city of Abuja. You will dance so hard you will be certain it is Friday. Be sure to rest up for those Monday morning meetings, though.
On Facebook

10 PoP Beach Club
Lagos, Nigeria
Just a 10-minute boat ride away from the hustle and bustle of Lagos – be transported to Africa’s budding new surf culture at PoP Beach Club.
popbeachclub.com

No Replies to "Great Explorations"

    Leave a reply

    Your email address will not be published.