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Traditional African board games are great fun for the whole family and often beautifully made. Many of Africa's traditional board games are strategy games, the forerunners to checkers, mancala and tic-tac-toe. If you can't find a board game for sale (click on the link to see my top ten choices), the beauty of these games is that they can be created using pen and paper, or stones and dirt. Find out more about traditional board games including bao, fanorona, morabaraba, mancala, senet and more.
Be the talk of your town and buy your loved one a camel. They're diverse, useful animals and their dung makes excellent fuel and fertilizer. This is probably more than you can say for your dog or cat. As an efficient, economical form of transport, a camel will beat a Prius hooves down. A camel will also keep your lawn nice and trim. Oxfam is selling camels for $125, you have to agree, this is a top notch bargain.
Reading about a country before you travel there really enhances your experience. Reading about a country you've just visited is equally satisfying since you can picture the scenes perfectly. I've put together a list of personal Top 10 books set in Africa and you can't really go wrong with any of them although some are not too cheery. If you're traveling to Kenya, check out my recommended book list for Kenya, and contributing author David Bristow's picks for books to read before you travel to South Africa.
I ran a poll about movies in Africa and The African Queen came out as the winner with the most votes. But there have been plenty of excellent movies set in Africa since then. I have a list of personal favorites which should please most Africa enthusiasts if they found a DVD tucked away in their Christmas stocking.
5. Travel Gift Vouchers
Everyone likes the flexibility of a gift voucher and what could be better than the gift of travel. There are several companies out there who offer travel vouchers. Most seem to be located in the UK which is actually a good place to book a trip to Africa from, since it's often cheaper, even if you have to add on a transatlantic flight:
6. Travel Gear
A subscription to the excellent Travel Africa Magazine will really impress anyone who is interested in African travel (or those who like beautiful photography). It's such a well-written and informative magazine, personally I can't wait for my issue every month. I even enjoy reading the ads.
8. African Clothing and Crafts
African carvings, furniture, masks, jewelry, mud cloth, Kente cloth and much more are available through a number of quality online stores. Recommended shops include:
- For some Maasai beadwork made from zulu grass and wood check out the Leakey collection
- Unique recycled flip-flop gifts from Marula Studios in Nairobi make for wonderful stocking stuffers.
- Recycled tin art from all over Africa is available online from Indigo.
- Handmade crafts from all over Africa, supporting fair trade and empowering women, from A Gift2Africa
- African Threads sells textiles, embroidery and bead work from South Africa.
- Africa Imports
- African Craft
- Africa Guide Shop
- Africa Direct
I'm a big fan of African contemporary art, but it's a little bulky to travel with and the airlines are getting more fussy about bringing huge carvings and paintings on board. Luckily the African Colours website offers art for sale direct from the artists, and they'll ship it to you for a reasonable price. Just browse for inspiration!
Buying a cell phone or calling plan that can be used in Africa will enable you to not only keep in touch but also share the adventure. Listen in on the rumble of the Victoria Falls or the latest band in Soweto with your loved one who is traveling in Africa. There are plenty of plans available, find out more about staying in touch while traveling in Africa. An iTunes or Amazon.com gift card is a great gift idea, your loved one/friend can download some handy travel apps (or books and movies) before they head out on their African adventure. Here's a list of Travel Apps for Africa to browse through...