Sep 16, 2010 12:47:26 AM
A teenager’s guide to East Africa
It’s not often we have teenagers in the office (except for teenagers at heart), so we asked Lonely Planet work experience student Camilla Stephenson to give us the lowdown on her tips for getting the most out of an African trip. Here they are – parents take note!
Firstly, on any travelling adventure with your family, take a journal! It is the perfect place to write down all your thoughts and everything you see, hear, taste and smell. Paint the picture in words of the Serengeti’s starry sky or the stride of the lion as it walks away with its captured prey. It will keep you occupied when your iPod runs out of battery and when you’re sick of your family’s company. It’s also a really good place to let some steam out. A little bit fed up of your parents and OMG really want to scream? Tell the journal and trust me you will be laughing at it once you get home. Plus, it will keep your English teacher happy if you’re missing school.
Qualify for your PADI Scuba Diving licence on the Kenyan Coast at Watamu. A bit of listening and class work required but it’s all worth it for a skill of a lifetime. Fortunately you become aware of how beautiful sunrises are and the drowsy effect you usually have when you wake up in the morning is replaced with the automatic rush of water against your wetsuit and an oxygen tank on your back. 7 kilometres off the Kenyan coast and 9 metres down you will be transported to your childhood memory of watching the The Little Mermaid and if you’re lucky you may look up to see the harmless Whale Sharks slowly swimming above you. While you’re searching around Watamu, drop into Bahiti Gelateria Italiana on Watamu Beach road. The local owners Andrea and Anna will whip you up the best milkshakes, brioches or ice cream as well as cakes for any occasion and don’t go past the Nutella crêpe.
Convince your parents to book a canvas tented safari. The wild animal action doesn’t stop when you get out of the safari truck. As you’re falling asleep in the tents, the distant roar of a lion can be heard or the footsteps of a hyena as they creep past your tent walls – just to get your adrenaline running. Competition becomes fierce as you play against family members in seeing who can spot the predator first; see if you can beat the tour guide. A few early mornings may be required however not to fear, a butler will arrive at the foot of your tent ready to hand you your breakfast, literally, on a silver tray.
Take the time to look through the streets of Stone Town in Zanzibar (Unjuga). Look past the little stores that line all the streets with tourist-labelled items and find your way through the antique stores that are jam-packed with so many incredibly random things. Check out cabinets full of turquoise rings, antique padlocks, colonial style hats and keys and seek out the sought-after traditional African Elephant Hair bracelets. Don’t go past One Way, opposite the old post office in Stone Town, which sells a range of t-shirts that last forever and are perfect for gifts.
Start planning your trip now with our East Africa guidebook.