Hakuna Matata! ✌

Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase. Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze. It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!

Does this catchy song ring a bell? Reminds you of a lion, a meerkat and a warthog happily singing in the jungle? Hakuna Matata was indeed a very popular song in the Waltz Disney movie of The Lion King. However, this wonderful phrase is actually an expression used across East Africa meaning ‘no worries’ in Swahili, describing the positive and easy-going African lifestyle. Well, this is exactly how I can recap my week on the heavenly island of Zanzibar.


Since I’m having such a wonderful experience in SA, I decided to extend my contract at the orphanage for another few weeks. Therefore, in order to renew my South African visa, I had to leave the country for a few days to be eligible for a new stamp on my return (perfect excuse for a little vacation, right?). With South African winter at our doorstep, my holiday criteria were clear: heat and beach! I might be Canadian, but it’s getting freaking cold down here! Thus, I opted for Zanzibar, an exotic place I was dreaming of visiting. ☀️

Zanzibar is an archipelago of 50 islands with a population of a 1.3 million, nestling in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. Unguja, the main island, is located 36km off the African East coast and 6 degrees from the Ecuador. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, which means they still have their own President and government, and they deal with their own internal matters. Over the centuries, Zanzibar has been colonized and occupied by explorers, traders and settlers of several nationalities (Swahili, Persians, Arabs, Indians and Europeans) becoming today a small nation rich in history and culture. For decades, Zanzibar was mainly used as a slave-trading port until this practice was abolished in 1890. Today, the economy of Zanzibar relies on tourism and spices exportation (Zanzibar was once the world’s leading clove producer!).

A few highlights of my trip…

-My visit to a spice farm where my senses were highly stimulated. I got the chance to smell, taste and feel dozens of local spices including cinnamon, coffee, nutmeg, ginger and of course cloves.

-I also had the privilege to pet and feed giant tortoises of over 200 years old in a sanctuary in Stone Town (the nation’s capital).

-Finally, yes I did enjoy the pristine beaches on a daily basis, but a visit to Zanzibar would not have been complete without visiting the underwater world. Therefore, I spent my last day scuba diving, exploring the depths of the Indian Ocean where I spotted turtles, starfishes and massive schools of colourful fishes.

It was the perfect Hakuna Matata type of holiday where I fully recharged my batteries before heading back to my ‘mommy’ role at Othandweni. It’s now time to make the most of my last moments with my little ones… 3 weeks before my big departure!

Kenya, a country of diversity 

My two months journey in East Africa began and finished in the fascinating country of Kenya. I remember when I first landed in Nairobi; seeing skyscrapers, highways, shopping malls everywhere for the first time in Africa was almost shocking! I felt like I was on another continent! What surprised me the most however was the multiculturalism, especially in metropolis like Nairobi and Mombasa. Through the years, Kenya became a melting pot of traditional tribes, urban families, expats and of course tourists from around the world. I could finally walk in the streets or in the grocery store without being the odd one because of my skin color!

Not only Kenya has a vibrant ethnic culture, but the country also offers a vast palette of landscapes. I started my journey in the mountains by trekking Mount Kenya. Then I experienced my first game drive in the Masai Mara National Park, The Lion King’s inspired savannah. Finally, I wrapped up my Kenyan trip by sunbathing on the sugar-powder beaches of the Swahili Coast. This rich diversity of environments, activities and cultures will please any traveler. It surely worked for me considering I extended my stay for a few weeks! Tanzania, I will have to come back for you another time! Kenya, thanks for all the beautiful memories and friends I have made. You have a dear place in my heart! ❤️

Population: 44 millions

Capital: Nairobi

Languages: Swahili and English

Traditional dish:

-Nyama choma (barbecued meat, often goat)

-Ugali (cornmeal dough)

-Masala chai (very sweet spiced tea)

Visited places during my trip: Nairobi, Mount Kenya, Masai Mara National Park, Eldoret, Mombasa and Diani

Interesting facts:

-The ‘Big fives’ (lions, elephants, buffaloes, leopards and rhinoceros) are found all around the country. They are considered the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.

-The sceneries of the Waltz Disney movie The Lion King were inspired by the Kenyan national parks.

-The black rhino is the most endangered specie in Kenya. Poachers are hunting them for their horns.

-Coffee is the country’s biggest income generator, followed by tourism. Ironically, most Kenyan don’t consume coffee which is considered an export product. They prefer tea and beer instead.

-The minimum legal wage is 160$/month.

-No matter the religion or gender of a person, polygamy became legal in Kenya last year!

-Kenya is one of the most corrupted country in the world..

My Kenyan highlight moments:

My Mount Kenya trekking is still my highlight of my African trip so far (see Mount Kenya Expedition) but I will also always remember my amazement during my first game drive in the Masai Mara. There is something very unique about seeing elephants, giraffes and buffaloes in the wild for the first time. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see the ‘big five’ (I missed the lions, leopards and rhino) but I’m crossing my fingers to spot them during my travels around South Africa!


Rwanda, Pays aux Milles Collines

Everyone remembers the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the dreadful blood bath between the Tutsis and the Hutus. For myself, I was too young to recall the event but I surely do remember watching the movie Hotel Rwanda and being stunned by the story. I was happy that this small intriguing country was on our group tour itinerary. I was very curious to discover what Rwanda is all about today. The minute we crossed the border, I was in love! Volcanos and rainforests as far as our eyes can see, roads in perfect conditions (they even have sidewalks and bike lanes!), absolutely no sign of pollution (finally, an African country that believes in garbage cans!), houses and schools are nicely built and taking care of, AND, most of the Rwandan speak French! Wow! 👍 Despite this, 57% of Rwandan still live below the poverty line. They are simply very hard-working people who are proud of their country, striving to rebuild their economy and reputation.

We only spent 3 days in Rwanda but it was enough to get a glimpse of their beautiful culture and to learn about the history of the country. However, the dark days are finally behind. The Rwandan were able to turn the page and open a new chapter. Rwandan don’t differentiate themselves by tribes anymore, but consider themselves as one nationality. Nowadays, you don’t hear about ‘Tutsis’ or ‘Hutus’, but ‘Rwandans’. Rwanda has now become a very politically stable country, with no corruption. It’s impressive how an awful event had such a positive change for a country. Rwanda is a perfect example of a nation that was able to apologize, put the past behind in order to progress towards a bright future. Respect! 🙌

Population: 12.3 millions

Capital: Kigali

Languages: Kinyarwanda, French and English

Visited places during my trip: Kigali (Genocide Memorial Center), Musanze and the Parc National des Volcans

Famous for:

-The movie Hotel Rwanda

-Dian Fossey, an American zoologist who devoted her life to the study and the protection of mountain gorillas.

-Coffee and tea plantations

Interesting facts:

-Rwanda has the world’s highest number of women working at the parliament (56%)! Go women power!

-To preserve the natural beauty of the country, the government enforces a strict ban on plastic bags. You can even get fined if the police finds a plastic bag in your luggage at the border!

-Just like The Gambia, the last Saturday of every month is a national community service/cleaning day called the Umuganda. Every Rwandan (including the President) must clean their neighborhood or help building community centers (schools, medical centers, hydroelectric plants). No wonder the country is so clean!

-Rwanda, ‘Le Pays aux Milles Collines’ (the Land of Thousand Hills) got its name because of its endless rolling grassy hills, mountain ranges and volcanoes.

-Rwanda is one of the smallest nation and most densely populated countries in the world…

My highlight moment: My trek in the Parc National des Volcans in search of mountain gorillas! Mountain gorillas can only be seen in the nature in 3 different countries (Rwanda, Uganda and Congo); they can’t survive in captivity. So it is a pretty unique experience to get an encounter with these big intimidating primates! However, contrary to the commercial image of the fierce King Kong, gorillas are actually very nice and tolerant towards humans (let’s not forget they have 98% of our genes!). After one hour of trekking through the dense rainforest we finally arrived to our designed family, the Umubano group. It was pretty amazing to hang out with three silverback, but also with a little 3 months old baby! I must say gorillas are very charismatic creatures! I was impressed on how they didn’t mind us at all, they were just moving around us, like we were part of their family! This is definitely a must for everyone who comes in Eastern Africa! 🙂