My list of top Africa blogs and websites touch on African culture, wildlife, news, technology and of course travel. These are the web sites and blogs I turn to for inspiration on a regular basis. If you are interested in learning more about Africa from all perspectives, click through and enjoy! If you are interested in visiting any of Africa's 54 countries, check out my Africa Travel site for tips and information.
Ranger Diaries is a collection of blogs from (mostly) South African 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. It's not all about rare sightings of Pel's fishing owl, and wild dogs taking on crocodiles. Rangers also travel further afield and report on their trips to Ethiopia, as well as their forays into safari camp management. The rangers also generously share their incredible photos on the blog. Free up an hour or so before you visit this site, it's very addictive. If you are planning a safari, or have ever been on safari, you'll love it.
African technology and innovation just doesn't get enough press in my opinion, so I turn to Timbuktu Chronicles to get my fix. Expertly written by Emeka Okafor, a New York based entrepreneur himself and 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 new crowdsourcing projects like the Startup Africa Fund.
African Colours is a wonderful contemporary art resource based out of Nairobi, Kenya. The site is managed by the talented sculptor Maggie Otieno. Regular updates keep you current on contemporary arts news from around the continent. There's information about upcoming exhibitions, artist profiles, and more. If you don't know much about the African contemporary arts scene, this is a good introduction. Contemporary art in Africa may be woefully underfunded, but it is vibrant, alive and well! Check out some of the artist portfolios for inspiration. You can contact individual artists through the site, and even buy some of their work.
Wildlife Direct is an amazing project founded by Dr Richard Leakey and other prominent conservationists. With its head office in Kenya, the web site is collection of blogs, written by those who are working on the ground protecting vulnerable wildlife as well as communities in some of the most remote areas around the world. Each blogger can raise funds directly through the web site for their most urgent projects and needs. It enables conservationists to get the latest news out to those who care about wildlife around the world. Donations to specific projects that touch you, can be made instantly, and can be as small as $5. My children have contributed their pocket money many times this way, it's been a great educational tool. You can follow the Maasai Lion Guardians in their mission to protect both lions and their livestock. Or check out the work of the Gorilla Doctors who are out in the Virunga mountains saving the lives of one mountain gorilla at a time.
Afropop Worldwide is both a radio program and online magazine. You can listen to the latest music coming out of Africa and the African diaspora. The magazine gives insights into upcoming concerts and events as well as individual musicians, album reviews, and bands. If you want to learn more about new artists, or wish to read reviews of a CD you've recently come across, this is the place to come to. Stumbled upon a great band in Nairobi? Afropop will probably have the lowdown and can tell you if they'll be performing in NY anytime soon!
Also check out: MyAfricanMusic.com
If you're interested to see how the fight on poverty, education and health is coming along in various parts of Africa, check out the Impatient Optimists blog. The Bill and Melinda gates foundation supports the organizations that are represented in these blogs which features the work of the foundation’s grantees, partners, leadership, and staff, as well as other bloggers. They are really at the forefront of development initiatives to alleviate poverty, and improve the health and well being of those who are unable to get there without extra help.
I start every day with a little dose of the BBC's Africa section. It's obviously great for news, but also for it's science and environmental reporting. The Lonely Planet guide feeds in travel news and updates on various African destinations. The Features and Analysis sections are always on target and can range from embattled Madagascar cocoa farmers, to the latest in Somali piracy. If you don't have time to read through lengthy articles, the podcasts are excellent to download and listen to. I also follow the main correspondent Andrew Harding on twitter for good measure.
The sheer volume of listings alone, makes TripAdvisor an invaluable travel tool, especially when you are checking out hotels, lodges and camps. The further off the beaten track you go in Africa, the harder it is to get current information on a simple guesthouse or government hotel. TripAdvsior 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! I don't rate their travel tips or restaurant reviews as highly as their accommodation reviews, because I think there are better sites out there for those categories (see Lonely Planet Thorntree travel forum). Note that if you are researching safari camps, they may turn up under "specialty lodging" rather than "hotels". The "vacation rental" category is improving steadily and offers families and longer-term business travelers a great alternative.
Want to know how long the bus will take from Addis to Lalibela? Care to find out if the iron ore train is still running in Mauritania? If the ferry is still making regular runs from Mopti? Or how much to pay for a camel ride around the Pyramids these days? The best place to get advice from people who have been there, done that, and are often "still there" (waiting for a bus to arrive), is the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum. You can get current advice, find a travel companion and see if your dodgy tour operator is at all honest. I use it all the time to update my travel guides and plan my own trips.
Lots of gorgeous eye candy along with well-written informative articles, National Geographic traveler is available both online and in print. One of my favorite features is the Intelligent Travel blog. National Geographic Traveler still stands out for covering cultural, historical and natural sights, which are all abundant in Africa, so there's rarely an issue without some coverage of the continent.