• Monday, October 11th, 2010


Aitutaki [1] is an island in the Southern Cook Islands a 45 minute flight from the capital island of Rarotonga.

Akaiami Paradise Lodges, Akaiami Island, [2]. Set on beautiful Akaiami motu if you can afford it set aside at least one night to stay at Akaiami Paradise. The hosts are very friendly and helpful, and will organise activities if you wish.$600 per night.  


Aitutaki lagoon and its islands are breathtakingly beautiful. The classic picture postcard of small palm tree fringed tropical island, with shallow, warm turquoise waters, corals, tropical fish and blue skies is taken here. The lagoon is large, taking about an hour in a boat to cross it.

The island name is pronounced Aye – too – tah – ki.

Tourism facilities are well developed, but are still low key enough not to intrude on the nature of the island.


The larger island is split into different villages, Vaipae & Tau’tu are the largest and are located on the south east side of the island, Arutanga is often referred to as town and is on the south west side of the island. Arutanga has a center area for shopping, and the Telecom Office (also the Post Office), the Westpac Bank and the Bank of the Cook Islands are located here. Here you will also find the Blue Nun and Wharf. Amuri is a general term for the north end of the island which contains most of the tourist accommodations and less population. The other villages on the island are Uriea, Rearea, Rama, Vaipeka and Nikaupara.

There are several smaller island in the lagoon Akaiami is a small, elongated islet at the opposite end of the lagoon from Aitutaki’s main island around 20 minutes across the lagoon from Aitutaki. Akaiami is remote, quiet, charming, unspoiled and surrounded by pristine turquoise lagoon and coral reef, and there is a small lodge there. One Foot Island is a popular stopping spot for lagoon cruises.


During WWII the island was host to American forces who outnumbered the local population of the island at the time. The Americans built the airstrips which are still in use today. The island was built to be the last point of defence in the Pacific, but Japanese advance was reversed and the island never saw action. Some descendants of the American troops stationed there remain on the island.

The lagoon was a stopover point for the TEAL (later to become Air New Zealand) flying boats, which operated to between Tahiti, Fiji and New Zealand until 1960. The remains of the wharf where visitors would disembark for a two hour stopover, often including a swim in lagoon is still in place today on the island of Akaiamiin the lagoon. The rocks are slight submerged.

Get in

Aitutaki Airport (IATA: AIT)is served by Air Rarotonga [3] with daily flights from Rarotonga. There are flights three to five times daily (except Sundays where two flights are operated) that take approximately 45 minutes.

There is a small cafe at the airport, selling Atiu coffee and some other local produce. There is no ATM at the airport.

Flights are around $200-$250 each way, and the morning flights there and the afternoon flights back are be reserved for people doing day or overnight trips.

It is possible to do a day trip from Rarotonga, which includes flights, a bus tour of the island, a lagoon cruise, and lunch. Regular price is $499, but lookout for last minute specials down to $400.

There are rumours of a locals flightin the evening that offers cheaper fares than the daytime flights.

Get around

By car/scooter

Car and Scooter (or Moped) hire are the main forms of transport on Aitutaki. This can easily be arrange through any of the rental companies (or better accommodations) on the island. Prices tend to be higher and quality a bit lower than on Rarotonga.

A driver’s licence is $2.50 NZD and can be purchased at the police station in Arutanga (also known as town). You will need to present your foreign driver’s licence to obtain this. You are not required to have a motorcycle licence on your licence from your home country to obtain a licence for scooters & motorcycles in the Cook Islands; driving down to the police station is typically your practicum, although very rarely they do do short tests. The licence is paper with no photo identification and lasts for a year. An Aitutaki driver’s licence is cheaper, easier to get, and faster than getting a licence in Rarotonga and your Aitutaki licence will cover you for the whole Cook Islands. Licences in Rarotonga cost $20 with an additional amount for a practical test. There are sometimes lines in Rarotonga at the licence office so if you can avoid it, and you don’t want a laminated photo id, the Aitutaki licence is the way to go.

Prices for cars can vary on which model chosen and which company used but typically $65 to $85 a day is usual with a refundable $40 petrol deposit. Cars typically tend to be automatics and are pretty reliable under the hood but will usually have some superficial damage.

Scooters are much more economical at $25 a day with a $10 petrol deposit. There is some competition with scooters so if you are not happy with yours you have other options. As with the cars, the scooters are typically in good condition and safe to drive, but will not be vespas or straight out of the box. Typically rentals are automatic, but ask and manuals should be available. Manual scooters can be in better condition because they are not rented as often.

By taxi

Taxis are expensive on Aitutaki. Rates are based on how far you are going, anywhere from $10 per person for short trips to $20 NZD per person, booking ahead is highly recommended and you can confirm your price then. There two taxi companies on the island (some restaurants & bars will have their own vehicles for pickups) :

  • Pacifica Taxi – excellent service and reliable.
  • Tropicool Tours – as the name suggests, does day tours around the island, transfers for Lagoon Cruises, and transfers for Cafe Tupuna. It is operated by Nane Herman who is a wonderful resource on island life and usually arrives with flowers for her guests, the only problem is that she can have limited availability for taxi services.


The Lagune of Aitutaki, seen from Samade Beach
  • One-Foot Island is a must see with blue lagoons and white sandy beach. There is a post office (box). One of the most remote in the world. There are beaches for swimming, you can walk around the island. Best snorkelling seems to be around the island past the rock ledge, towards the reef.
  • Take an island, safari, & walk about tours
  • Ministry of Marine Resources. Open weekdays only. Learn about the sea life in the lagoon. See baby sea turtles and giant clams. 
  • Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, Motu Akitua, Aitutaki Lagoon, (+682) 31203, [4]. Visit the Cook Islands’ only private island resort, just a two-minute ride by small private ferry from the main island of Aitutaki. This boutique bungalow resort welcomes visitors and offers Day Passes, which include access to its beautiful beaches and use of such equipment as snorkelling gear, kayaks, outrigger canoes, windsurfers and bicycles. The resort also offers two restaurants where you can dine right on the water – Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill and Bounty Restaurant, Oneroa Beach Pavilion, an air-conditioned Conference Room, Gift Shop, Akitua Rentals car hire, Best of the Cook Islands tour desk and SpaPolynesia Aitutaki.  
  • Aitutaki beach, Aitutaki. If you are going to Aitutaki beach by flight then you have to get down in a little town called Rarotonga. However there are no flights on Sundays.When you reach this beautiful Island a visitor’s permit is granted to you for 31 days beyond which if you want to stay you have to take an extension of the permit.The beauty and pristine nature of the place has attracted many a person of eminence. Steve Davey in his “Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die” has spoken about its beauty and considered the lagoon as the best in the world. Captain William Bligh brought succulent papayas from this exotic island.  

Lagoon Tours

If the weather is nice, or even if its not too bad, a lagoon cruise is near idyllic. Aitutaki’s lagoon is supposed to rival Bora Bora in French Polynesia for beauty, and all of the lagoon operators are reputable and offer excellent trips. There is not a best operator on Aitutaki for Lagoon Cruises so look around and decide what kind of a cruise you are looking for – smaller more intimate cruises which stay away from One Foot Island during peak periods, or larger slower boats with entertainment and toilets on board. Unless it’s a terrible day you can’t go wrong.

For cruises on smaller boat try:

  • Aitutaki Adventures, (682) 31171(fax: (682) 31528).  


The view from the top of Maunga Pu
  • Aitutaki Golf Club. The island’s 9-hole golf course. Bookable via hotels.Clubs for rental around NZ$10 and green fees around NZ$10.  
  • Fishing (either game fishing or fly fishing inside the lagoon). There is a game fishing area by the Wharf in Arutanga where the public can compete in Fishing Contests.
  • Explore the island – rent a bicycle, scooter, or car and drive around the island. Don’t be in a rush though as it won’t take you long to get around the island. Take your time are enjoy the beaches, and taro on banana plantations. Of course the beach is also beckoning and the water is beautiful. The highest peak, Maunga Pu, offers good birds eye views of the whole island.
  • Experience an Island night
  • SpaPolynesia Aitutaki, Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, Motu Akitua, Aitutaki Lagoon, (+682) 31203, [5]. SpaPolynesia Aitutaki offers profesionally-qualified spa therapists and an extensive spa menu including aromatherapy massage, coconut body scrubs and thalassotherapy wraps, hydrating facials, spa manicures and pedicures, and a hydrotherapy session with a private couple’s jacuzzi and sauna. Guests can enjoy a deeply-relaxing massage within the spa’s serene, island-style ambience, or in the cool shade of the coconut palms on the white sand beach against the backdrop of magnificent Aitutaki Lagoon.  
  • Windsurfing Aitutaki, Motu Akitua, Aitutaki Lagoon, (+682) 31203, [6]. Aitutaki Lagoon is a windsurfers (and kiteboarders) paradise. For guests of Aitutaki’s private island resort, Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, windsurfing is included as a complimentary activity throughout their stay. Non-house guests are able to purchase Day Passes which include windsurfing as well as such other resort activities as snorkelling, outrigger canoes, kayaks and bicycles. The whole area in front of the resort island, Motu Akitua, is a windsurfers playground, especially along the front of Sunset Beach and around Kuriri Point at the mouth of Full Moon Channel.  


There is a small store for supplies in town, and two ATMs. The selection is very much what is available at the time, and is quite limited. Sea cargo can arrive in Aitutaki every 3 months, and supplies can be limited before resupply.

On Sundays there is only one store open, the Neibaa Store in Vaipae, and there is no gasoline or petrol for sale.


  • Try the island’s Ike mata (raw tuna) with coconut milk. It is delicious! And Poke a Cook Island Banana pudding which usually comes baked in the Earth oven or “Umu” Try not to eat snapper as they may give you ciguatera.

Reservations for dinner are a good idea on Aiutaki, as periodically the more popular restaurants will book up during tourist peak periods.

  • Te Vaka Bar & Grill, Aitutaki. An excellent option for meals with possibly the largest menu on the island. Good quality and price, but sometimes the service is on “island time”. Something travellers will likely experience, positively hopefully, anywhere in the outer islands. Te Vaka does have limited kitchen hours for meals, but the bar is also your best bet for any live sports, as they have a plasma TV hooked up to satellite. Friday nights are popular rugby nights for locals to cheer on the All Blacks. If you are Australian you can expect some good natured ribbing when any Wallaby match is on.
  • Cafe Tupuna (31678 – not open on Sundays) Reservations are required. The food and service on the island is as good as you will find on the island and is on par with other a-la-carte dining experiences travellers will be used to.
  • Rapae Bay Restaurant, The Pacific Resort (31720 – open 7 days a week) Reservations are required. The best food and service on the island and on a par with other a la carte dining experiences travellers will be used to.

The following all serve decent quality food but it definitely leans more to a take away style menu, with hamburgers being a big staple.

  • Samade’s Bar Great BBQ on Sunday
  • Puffy’s For the Best Fish and Chips on the Island
  • Koru Cafe serves Espresso coffee and has WiFi internet.
  • Popoara’s Boathouse The Boathouse will hopefully be more on par with the Te Vaka Bar & Grill once it is fully up and running, with more seafood on the menu. The best Ike mata on the island.
  • Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, Motu Akitua, Aitutaki Lagoon, (+682)31203, [7]. Visitors are welcome at the resort’s two restaurants. The Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill is named in honour of the Solent Flying Boats which used to land directly on Aituaki Lagoon during the glamorous 1950s era of the South Pacific ‘Coral Route’, which included such luminous adventurers as screen legends Cary Grant and John Wayne. Set directly on the water’s edge with unparalleled lagoon views, the Flying Boat’s menu showcases the island’s finest cuisine from the seas and gardens of Aitutaki. The resort’s spacious Bounty Restaurant overlooks Bligh’s Beach and Full Moon Chanel, and is named in honour of the HMS Bounty which carried the first Europeans to sight Aitutaki, just 17 days before the infamous mutiny. The resort offers a variety of dining experiences including Seafood Platters for Two, 5-course Degustation Menu, private candlelit dining in a variety of exclusive island locations, Honeymoon Moet & Chandon Breakfast, Gourmet Picnic Hampers, Wedding Receptions in the Oneroa Beach Pavilion, Private Group Dinners, plus daily Casual Dining (pizzas, club sandwiches, pasta salads and more). Two iconic restaurants in the heart of the South Pacific, where you can dine with your toes in the sand on the shores of the world’s most beautiful lagoon, under a canopy of five trillion stars.  


Pacific or Islands Nights are also a good option to experience while you are in the Cook Islands. Islands nights usually involve either a buffet or a la carte menu and an island dancing show for a set price. Most island nights will also include a string band before the show as well. While Cook Island dancing is distinct in its own ways and definitely worth watching, it will be of a same vein as Tahitian shows for those more familiar with French Polynesia.

There is also nightlife, particularly on Friday’s & Saturdays. The popular venues change every once in a while but are not typically hard to find and will usually be wherever the Island night takes place.

  • Samade’s Bar tends to attract more tourists than locals. You will find locals genuinely friendly and open and it is an excellent experience. The only words of caution are that periodically fights can occur after closing among those who’ve had too much to drink. It can be village rivalry or personal but almost never involves tourists. Closing time is always 12AM.
  • Coconut Crusher Bar. A great feed, a great drink, and wonderful people


  • Aitutaki Seaside Lodges, P.O. Box 38, Aitutaki, (682) 31056(, fax: (682) 31056), [8]. Three newly built comfortable sized bungalows right on the beach in the northern part of the main island.NZ$250 per room night; NZ$230 per room night for five nights or more. Children under the age of 5 are free of charge, from 5-12 NZ$20 per night..  
  • Etu Moana, [10]. One bedroom villas. 
  • Gina’s Beach Lodge, Akaiami island, (682) 31058(, fax: (682) 31058), [11]. Large property on beach with three studio type rooms. Rate NZ$ 300 Double ; NZ$180 Single ; Extra Adult: $NZ75 / night; Children: 12-15 Years: $NZ60 / night, 8-11 Years: $NZ20 / night, Under 8 years: Free.  
  • Gina’s Garden Lodges, 10 mins out of Tautu Village on the main island, (682) 31058(, fax: (682) 31058), [12]. Four large self-contained lodges. With communal swimming pool.Single $75 per night, double/twin $120 per night, extra adult $30 per night, children (0-15 yrs) $20 per child per night.  
  • Josies Lodge, Popoara, 31659. Cheap backpackers lodge. 
  • Maina Sunset Motel, Nikaupara, Main island, 682 25432. Several self contained units. Onsite restaurant. Budget. 
  • Matriki Beach Huts, (+682) 31564(, fax: (+682) 31564), [13]. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 10AM. A cluster of beachside huts.The separate hut is NZ$50.- per person per night single and NZ$32.50 per person double occupancy. The two huts in the two storey set-up are NZ$ 50.- per person per night single, NZ$35.-per person double and downstairs NZ$ 32.50.- per person triple occupancy. The garden unit is NZ$55.- per person single, NZ$37.50 per person double and NZ$32.50 per person triple occupancy..  
  • Pacific Resort Aitutaki, +682 31720(fax: +682 31719), [14].  
  • Rino’s Beach Bungalows, Ureia Village, (682) 22166(, fax: (682) 22169), [15]. Beachfront and garden 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.$160 per doube villa.  
  • Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, Motu Akitua, [16]. Aituaki Lagoon Resort & Spa is the only resort located directly on Aitutaki Lagoon, considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful lagoon and featured in “100 Places to See Before You Die”. This boutique bungalow resort rests on its own private island, Motu Akitua(the Cook Islands’ only private island resort), just a two-minute ride by small private ferry from the main island. Encircled by fine, white sand beaches and enjoying magnificent panoramic lagoon views (“The Best Views on Earth of the World’s Most Beautiful Lagoon”), the resort also offers the Cook Islands’ only Overwater Bungalows, Aitutaki’s only private pool villa, the Royal Honeymoon Pool Villa ‘Te Arau’ and Aitutaki’s dedicated wedding venue, Oneroa Beach Chapel. Visitors are welcome at the resort’s two restaurants, Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill (named in honour of the Solent Flying Boats which used to land on the lagoon during the glamorous era of the Coral Route, set on the water’s edge with unparalleled lagoon views and a menu showcasing the island’s finest cuisine from the seas and gardens of the Cook Islands) and the Bounty Restaurant (named in honour of the HMS Bounty, the first Europeans to sight Aitutaki Lagoon), and at the resort’s SpaPolynesia Aitutaki which offers an extensive spa menu, plus couple’s jacuzzi and sauna. The resort offers guests a wide range of complimentary activities (including snorkelling,fish feeding, outrigger canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, bicyles and cultural activiites such as learn to dance the ‘ura (hula) or make an ‘ei (lei)), tour desk, car hire, internet, gift shop and weekly events include a Fire Dance Show and Polynesian Drum Dance Show.  

Stay safe

It will be a challenge to get into trouble in Aitutaki.

Water is not treated, so drink bottled water whilst on the island. There are mosquitoes but there is no malaria. There are stone fish in the lagoon, so wear reef shoes when exploring the reef.


  • Spider Co. Internet Lounge – internet cafe

Get out

The flying boats used on the coral route via Aitutaki are on display in Auckland.

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• Monday, October 11th, 2010


Africa has 53 sovereign countries—the most on any continent—and is the second largest continent in terms of both land area and population. Africa is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, by the Red Sea to the northeast, and by the Indian Ocean to the southeast. Despite the tendency by Westerners to refer to “Africa” as if it’s a country, Africa is a vast continent spanning over 5,000 miles north-south and 4,800 miles east-west (not including islands) and contains a wide aura of peoples, skin colors, religions, and cultures. Africa contains the world’s longest river—the 6,650km-long Nile River running from Burundi to Egypt —while the Congo River in the DRC is the second largest in terms of discharge as well as the deepest with a depth of over 230m (750ft) in some spots. Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain at 5,890m (19,340ft). Djibouti’s Lake Assal is the second lowest point on Earth, the saltiest lake outside Antarctica, and one of the hottest places on Earth. While the first activity most people associate with Africa is safaris, there are endless possibilities for adventure. You can purchase crafts in markets, venture into the Sahara with a Tuareg caravan, visit pygmy villages, hike through jungle to watch gorillas, relax on tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, snack on monkey or python “bushmeat”, travel down a river in a dugout “pirogue”, travel across savanna on a colonial-era railway, and much more.

Tragically misunderstood by most people in the West as a land of poverty and corruption, war and famine, and simply as a land of suffering—a misconception only bolstered by the media and the numerous NGOs on the continent—Africa today is a vast continent with many bustling metropolises, friendly people, and amazingly diverse and beautiful landscapes. While there are plenty of places resembling the stereotypical Africa of war, famine, and poverty, much of the continent is peaceful, well-fed, and of working class.


Map of Africa
North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Western Sahara)
The countries that rim the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Sahel (Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan)
The desert and savanna nations that span the Sahel and southern half of the Sahara Desert.
West Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo)
The tropical Atlantic coastal nations.
Central Africa (Angola, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe)
The heart of Africa.
East Africa (Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda)
The nations that border the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Southern Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe)
Nations at Africa’s southern tip.

Other territories

Atlantic Ocean Islands : Canary Islands (Spain), Madeira Islands (Portugal), Saint Helena (UK)

Spanish Exclaves : Ceuta, Melilla

Indian Ocean Islands : Mayotte (France), Reunion (France), Socotra (Yemen)


  • Accra — the capital of Ghana and one of the most accessible cities in West Africa for travellers
  • Addis Ababa — the huge capital of Ethiopia and a major hub for NGOs and the African Union
  • Cairo — the largest city in Africa with major monuments of Ancient Egypt nearby
  • Cape Town — the iconic Mother Cityof South Africa with Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope and numerous other attractions
  • Dakar — the capital of Senegal and the westernmost city in Africa
  • Luanda — the capital of Angola, which has been through a huge renaissance in the past decade
  • Nairobi — the capital of Kenya and the largest city in East Africa


There is no dominant language in Africa, but if you can only afford the time to learn one language, French would be the most useful, as it is spoken in about half of all the countries in Africa, especially in the West. Other useful languages to know would be English, Arabic and Portuguese. There are also hundreds of indegenous languages spoken, such as Swahili in Kenya and Tanzania, and Amharic in Ethiopia.

Other destinations

Victoria Falls

See also: African National Parks



The pyramids at Giza: the most famous Pharonic relic and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Modern humans, homo sapiens, are believed to have originated in East Africa somewhere between Ethiopia and Kenya. Despite this long history of habitation, there is very little (or little known about) African history prior to the second millennium AD outside of North Africa, Sudan & Ethiopia, as most were simple hunter-gatherers similar to most cultures still found today on the continent, with no writing systems nor lasting structures, arts, or crafts (aside from some cave paintings). North Africa, on the other hand, has a recorded history dating back several millennia with bountiful structures, writings, arts, and crafts which have survived to this day. The ancient Pharonic civilization centered in modern-day Egypt is recognized as the longest-lasting and one of the, if not the, greatest ancient civilizations lasting from around 3300BC until the invasion of Persians in 343BC. Today, their legacy lives with many of their cities well-preserved and now popular tourist attractions along with a few museums hosting their artifacts. Modern Jews believe themselves to be descendants of slaves in ancient Egypt and much of the Hebrew Bible, religious texts for both Jews & Christians, was based and written in the region. The other great early civilizations on the continent were the Nubians in northern Sudan and southern Egypt, who were very similar to the ancient Egyptians, leaving behind the city of Meroe in Sudan, and the Aksumite Empire from the 4th century BC until the 7st century AD in modern-day Ethiopia and eastern Sudan which was important to trade between India and the Roman Empire and an important center of early Christianity.

Roman theater at Leptis Magna, Libya.

Meanwhile, the 300s BC brought about the first (and less famous) invasions of Europeans in the continent. In 322 BC, Alexander the Great invaded Persian-occupied Egypt, establishing the famous city of Alexandria which would serve as an important center of scholarship and Greek culture for many centuries. Meanwhile, the Romans conquered much of the Mediterranean coastline to the west, leaving behind such ruins as Carthage and Leptis Magna. In the first century AD, Christianity spread to much of the region, first to Egypt, then Nubia, Ethiopia, and then to the Roman Empire.

The Muslim invasion and the beginning of the Arab Slave Trade in the 7th century AD changed the cultural landscape of North and large parts of East and West Africa. The newly-formed Arab caliphate invaded North Africa and the Horn of Africa within a few decades. In the west, Berbers would intermarry with the Arab invaders and become the Moorish population that would invade the Iberian peninsula. When the Damascus was invaded in the early eighth century, the Islamic religious and political center of the Mediterranean shifted to Kairouan in Tunisia. Their progress was limited only by the dense forests of West and Central Africa and to coastal areas in the East. The last region to come under Muslim influence was that of Nubia (moden-day norther Sudan) in the 14th century.

Old Mogadishu which reached its height as a commercial center in the 13th century.

The 7th-9th century would see the beginning of significant history in much of sub-Saharan Africa. In the west, large and powerful kingdoms rose inland, among which the Ghana (in Mali & Mauritania, no relation to modern Ghana), Dahomey (which lasted until French capture in 1894, now Benin), Za/Gao (in Mali & Niger), Kanem (in Chad), & Bornu (in Nigeria). As many of these empires converted to Islam, trans-Saharan trade grew with salt & gold transported to Libya & Egypt in large caravans of camels—a trade made possible by the introduction of camels from Arabia in the 10th century and which would support much of the area from northern Nigeria west to Mali & Mauritania until the 19th century. During the 13th-16th centuries, many of these early kingdoms were replaced with new empires, chief among them the Mali (in Mali, Guinea, & Senegal) and later Soghay (in Mali, Burkina Faso, & Niger) and a plethora of small, single-tribe kingdoms and city states sprouted. Many of Mali’s popular tourist destinations, including Timbuktu, Djenne, & Gao, rose to prominence during this period as they became centers of trade and Islamic scholarship during this period. The Hausa tribes in northern Nigeria began organizing in walled city states, of which remnants remain in Kano. Coastal, forsted West Africa remained largely unorganized, with the exceptions of a few Yorba city-states of Benin, Ife, & Oyo along with small Dahomey & Igbo empires all in modern-day Benin & Nigeria.

Meanwhile, East Africa also saw a rise of Islamic influence and prosperity from Indian Ocean trade as ships from Arabia, Persia, India, and as far as Southeast Asia dropped anchor in major ports from Somalia down to Mozambique bringing spices and taking away slaves and ivory. Between the 7th and 19th centuries, over 18 million people were taken from this region by the Arab slave trade—roughly twice as many as the Atlantic slave trade would take to the Americas. Today, that influence remains in the culture and gastronomy of many places, most notably on Indian Ocean islands such as Zanzibar, Comoros, the Seychelles, & Mauritius.

Ruins at Great Zimbabwe.

Southern Africa remained undeveloped, with primarily nomadic hunter-gatherers such as the San people and some small kingdoms. The Kingdom of Zimbabwe (namesake of today’s state) was one of the most notable, constructing the greatest stone structures in pre-colonial sub-Saharan Africa at their capital Great Zimbabwe. The Kingdom of Mapungubwe in modern eastern South Africa also left smaller stone ruins. Both profited from trade in gold and ivory with Arab and Asian merchants.

While a few Genoese, Castillian, & French explorers managed to reach parts of West Africa in the Middle Ages, European exploration of the continent truly began when Prince “Henry the Navigator” set out to acquire African territory for Portugal in the mid-15th century. The Portuguese reached Cape Verde in 1445 and by 1480 they had charted and began trade with the entire Guinea coast (modern Guinea-Bissau to Nigeria). In 1482, Diogo Cão reached the mouth of the Congo River, the Cape of Good Hope (the southern tip of Africa) was reached by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, and in 1498 Vasco da Gama sailed up the eastern coast where in Kenya his expedition set up a trading post at Malindi before finding a guide to take them to India. The Portuguese set up numerous forts along the African coast and established a highly profitable trade, (initially) held good relations with locals, and remained the dominant European power in the region until the 17th century while Spain, France, & Britain began exploring the Americas.

Slaving castle in Cape Coast, Ghana.

The lucrative trade and large amounts of gold obtained by the Portuguese lured other nations to the continent. As the demands for labor in the America’s grew, Portuguese sailors began taking shiploads of slaves to the Americas, beginning the Atlantic slave trade. In the early 17th century, the Dutch fought the Portuguese to win control of most of their West and Central African ports, some (like Luanda) would be retaken later, and established a couple dozen forts of their own, notably at Goree Island in Dakar and at the Cape of Good Hope—a port they hoped to use for trade routes to East Asia and which has become modern-day Cape Town. In 1642, the French built their first fort on Madagascar (which they claimed in 1667) and in 1663, the British built their first fort on the continent in the Gambia. Swedish merchants established a fort on Cape Coast, which later was overpowered by the Danish nearby at modern Accra.

In the 19th century, European attention shifted from establishing coastal ports for trade to fighting one another to colonize the continent and explore its uncharted interior. With slavery abolished by Britain and their strong efforts to thwart slavery around the world, Europe began to look for other sources of wealth on the continent. The most successful European colony, the Dutch Cape Colony, was seized by the British in 1795. Napoleonic France conquered Egypt in 1798, notably discovering the Rosetta Stone, only to be forced out by the British and then the Turks. France invaded a significant amount of coastal West Africa and the Barbary states in Algeria, cutting rampant piracy in the region. Accounts of brave adventurers travelling inland to find places such as Mount Kilimanjaro and rumored “inland sea” (the Great Lakes) and city of gold on the Nile sparked a wave of exploration in the mid-century primarily by Catholic and Jesuit missionaries in the Southern, Eastern, & Great Lakes regions of Africa. Chief among explorers was the British national hero David Livingstone, who as a poor missionary with few porters explored much of Southern and Eastern Africa, flowed down the Congo River from its sources, and sought the source of the Nile. In West & Central Africa, French, Belgian, & Spanish explorers ventured into the Sahara to find the legendary Timbuktu and Malian gold mines and the Congo in search of the Pygmies and hairy, large peoples (gorillas) of Greek legend.

Colonial division of Africa, 1914.

As accounts of Africa’s interior reached Europe, nations and merchants began to view the continent as a major source of commerce and wealth, simmilar to their Asian exploits, while the philanthropic and missionary class saw a great opportunity to “Christianize” and “civilize” the savage people of Africa. With social Darwinism introduced, many countries saw Africa as a great opportunity to establish colonial empires and establish their preeminence among other European nations, chiefly Germany to catch up with other European nations and France, to regain glories lost in North America and under Napoleon. Britain and Portugal joined this Scramble for Africa when they saw their interests threatened. In 1885, the Berlin Conference brought together European colonial powers to carve up the continent into defined colonial territories with many straight lines and no input from any African kingdom or settlement.

At the turn of the 20th century, Britain began a series of deadly South African Wars from their Cape Colony into surrounding African and Boer (white descendants of the Dutch) lands in modern South Africa, which brought Cecil Rhodes to fame for his vision to conquer and bring unite Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. The dense jungles of Central Africa lured Joseph Conrad, who wrote the novel Heart of Darknessfrom his experience. World War I saw one battle in German East Africa (Tanzania) which the British lost, although post-war, German possessions were divided amongst France, Belgium, & the UK. The Union of South Africa was granted independence from the UK in 1930. World War Two saw Ethiopia invaded by Italy along with major fighting in North Africa in which the Nazis were eventually evicted by the Allies. It was the social changes stemming from the war, in which tens of thousands of Africans fought for their colonial power, along with the Atlantic Charter which led to the spread of nationalistic movements post-war.

Dates of independence across Africa.

The decolonization of Africa began with Libyan independence from Italy in 1951. Colonial powers employed varying means of control over their colonies, some granting natives representation in the government and cultivating a select few civil servants while others maintained a firm grip with an all-European government. In some countries, nationalist movements were quashed and their leaders killed or jailed while others were able to peacefully achieve independence. In the 1950s, Guinea, Ghana, & North African nations gained independence non-violently with the exception of Algeria, where France violently fought independence movements until 1963. With the establishment and new constitution of France’s Fifth Republic in 1958, French West Africa & French Equatorial Africa ceased to exist and, after a brief “community” with France, the countries of these regions gained independence in 1960. By 1970, all but a handful of African nations were independent. The Portuguese bitterly fought to maintain their African possessions until 1975, all but one of whom gained independence through war. Zimbabwe was the last major colony to gain independence, in 1980. In 1990, semi-autonomous Namibia gained independence from South Africa and in 1993, Eritrea separated from Ethiopia following a protracted war. South Africa remained under firm control by its white minority, suppressing its black population under a system called apartheid until 1994. Morocco maintains control over Western Sahara, despite an established independence movement and remains a point of contention between Morocco and Algeria. Southern Sudan will vote on an independence referendum in 2011.

Europe divided Africa with complete disregard for the cultures and ethnic groups in Africa, often dividing a peoples between 2 or more countries and forcing peoples with a history of fighting or differing religions into one country. Additionally, a lack of training in civil service before and even after independence left most countries with dysfunctional governments and leaders tended to reward their own ethnic groups with jobs and money and in many cases suppressed ethnic minorities. This has been a cause of much strife post-independence across most of sub-Saharan Africa and has led to dozens of prolonged civil wars (notably in Sudan, Angola, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Nigeria), countless coups, and a countless number of inept, corrupt leaders. The discovery of valuable natural resources such as oil, uranium, diamonds, and coltan, has produced numerous independence movements post-independence citing the taking value of resources from their land to benefit the entire coutry (notably tiny, oil-rich Cabinda in Angola). Fortunately, there are numerous examples in Africa where past conflict has made way for functional governments, offering some hope for the future of African self-government.


As the second largest continent, there is a wide range of climates to be found. However, since the continent is nearly centered on the equator, much of the continent is quite warm/temperate with very few, small areas on the continent experiencing any temperatures that can be considered “cold”. In the temperate regions (parts of northern Morocco & the Mediterranean coast as well as South Africa), temperatures generally range from the 10s C to the mid-30s C (40s-90s F)year round. Closer to the equator and on islands like Cape Verde or Mauritius, temperatures may only vary less than 20 degrees C (15-35C/65-95F) throughout the year! In the deserts and arid regions like the Sahel and Horn of Africa, temperatures routinely hit 40C+ (and even 50C+ in the heart of the Sahara) but because sand does not retain heat like most soil does, those same places can easily fall down to 15 at night. There are a few bastions of cooler weather, however. Higher elevations, such as the Atlas Mountains in Morocco & Algeria or in Lesotho, are quite cold and snowy during winter and Mount Kilimanjaro, almost on the equator, is cold year-round (cold enough to support glaciers!). Peaks on islands such as Reunion, the Canary Islands, Mount Cameroon and more are cool enough to necessitate a jacket much of the year.

A far more important factor to consider when travelling to Africa is when the rain/monsoon season occurs. Timing varies a bit even in neighboring countries, so check the page of the country you are visiting for more info. In West Africa the season starts in March around Cameroon, but not until June in Senegal or the Sahel and ends around September. While rain may not be a huge factor when travelling to southern or East Africa, it is very problematic in West Africa and on islands in the Indian Ocean. In West Africa, rains will often flood and make many roads and railroads impassable and, due to poor drainage, can literally result in rivers of water flowing down streets and sewage lines to overflow. In the Sahel, it can result in flash floods in low-lying areas.

The largest weather-related dangers for travellers to Africa are lightning and tropical cyclones. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has more lighting strikes each year than any other country on earth, especially in the eastern part of the country near Goma. Lightning risk is highest from western Kenya /Tanzania and Ethiopia west to Senegal and south to Angola and Zambia. Tropical cyclones affect the islands of the Indian Oceean, with the season running from November 15-April 30 (May 15 in the Seychelles & Mauritius). Tropical cyclones also infrequently affect the horn of Africa near Djibouti & Somalia, but when they do, the arid land results in major flooding. Tropical cyclones often form off the coast of western West Africa (Guinea/Senegal) during the early part of the Atlantic Hurricane Season (June-August) and will rarely impact Cape Verde, for which these particular storms are called “Cape Verde-type hurricanes”.




Get in

By plane

Air fares to Africa can be very expensive, but there are ways to save. The best way to get great airfare to the continent is fly directly to an African country from its former colonial rulers. For example, it can easily cost hundreds of euros/dollars more to fly from London to a former French colony, or conversely from Paris to a former British colony. About the only exceptions are Egypt, which has plentiful, cheap connections with the Middle East & Europe and a handful of West African destinations (the Gambia, Cape Verde, Morocco) popular with British tourists and accessible with cheap holiday flights.

Airline consolidators can also be used for discounted air fares. If you have additional travel time, check to see how your total fare quote to Africa compares with a round-the-world fare. Don’t forget to add in the extra costs of additional visas, departure taxes, ground transportation, etc. for all those places outside of Africa.

See your destination’s article for more specific information on flights. Bear in mind that many African countries only offer a few international flights each day, or in some cases, each week. While it isn’t hard to reach South Africa or Egypt, getting to Malawi or Togo can be quite a challenge.

From Europe

There are more flights to Africa from Europe than from any other continent. Popular holiday destinations such as Egypt, Morocco, Cape Verde, & South Africa are well-served from Europe’s major cities, even with discount and charter airlines. Royal Air Maroc, Afriqyah Airlines, Jet4you & EgyptAir have a good selection of European destinations and Ethiopian, Kenyan, South African, & Arik Air serve a couple of major cities (London, Paris, etc.). The cheapest flights to African cities are often through the African country’s former colonial power. Cities with large immigrant populations such as London, Marseilles, & Paris have a good number of flights to Africa.

Chief among European airlines flying to Africa are:

  • Air France is the best (although not cheapest) carrier serving French-speaking Africa, with service to most major cities of West, Central, & North Africa along with service to Johannesburg, Cairo, Tripoli, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, & Djibouti.
  • British Airways is the best (although not particularly cheap) way to fly to former British colonies, they have service to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, & Egypt along with Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritius, & Angola.
  • Brussels Airlines flies from Brussels to most francophone countries in West and Central Africa along with Entebbe (Uganda), Nairobi, & Luanda.
  • Lufthansa flies to major cities in North Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ethiopia, & Eritrea.
  • TAP Portugal flies to former Portuguese colonies (Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome & Principe, Mozambique, Angola) and South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, & Senegal.

Many European discount airlines serve major tourist destination in Africa (especially Morocco, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Egypt, & the Gambia), including Jetairfly, EasyJet, & Corsairfly.

From the Americas

The only countries with direct flights to Africa are the United States, Canada, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, & Argentina.

From the United States, these are routes operated as of December 2009:

  • New York-JFK: Delta Air Lines to Johannesburg, Cairo, Abuja (via Dakar), Accra; EgyptAir to Cairo; Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca; & Arik Air to Lagos.
  • Washington-Dulles: South African Airlines to Johannesburg (via Dakar); Ethiopian Airlines to Addis Ababa (via Rome);United Airlines to Accra
  • Atlanta: Delta Air Lines to Johannesburg, Accra (begins 2 June 2010), & Lagos
  • Houston: charter flights for oil workers to Nigeria and Angola

Delta Air Lines had planned to begin service to several new African destinations in June 2009, but canceled several of them just weeks before they were to begin (including Sal, Malabo, Luanda, Nairobi, & Cape Town). The most anticipated new route, the thrice-weekly Atlanta-Nairobi route, was canceled the day before it was to commence by the FAA citing security shortcomings at the Nairobi airport, leaving Kenyans so outraged that the US ambassador was even summoned to answer questions. Look for new Delta routes in the coming years (especially Atlanta-Nairobi). Arik Air, which began New York-Lagos flights in November 2009, plans to expand service to Miami, Atlanta, & Houston in the near future, but no dates have been announced for these services.

Outside the peak travel times to Europe (e.g. summer) you might be able to get a good deal to London or Paris and book a fare from there to Africa separately on a European travel website. But don’t book the United States to Europe portion until you get confirmed on the Europe to Africa portion first. Through fares to Africa from the United States can be quite expensive, so avoiding peak travel times to Europe can sometimes save a lot. However, since new non-stop flights to Africa have recently been added, and Europe is much more expensive than it used to be, try getting a direct quote first, then see if you can do better. Another growing option is flying through the Middle East on Emirates or Qatar, which both serve a reasonable selection of African & American cities.

TAAG Angolan Airlines offers flights from Luanda to the Brazilian cities Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador de Bahia (seasonal), & Recife (seasonal) as well as a weekly flight to Havana via Sal.

South African Airways offers flights from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo & Buenos Aires. There are seasonal flights from Caracas to Tenerife-North in the Canary Islands. Malaysian Airlines flies Buenos Aires to Johannesburg. Turkish Airlines and Emirates both have flights from Sao Paulo to the Middle East which make stops in West Africa (Dakar or Lagos).

From Asia & the Middle East

If you’re flying to a small African country, Africa’s major airlines all have extensive coverage in Africa and fly to a handful of Asian destinations:

  • Ethiopian Airlines: Bahrain, Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Tel Aviv, Beirut, Kuwait, Jeddah, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Aden, Sana’a
  • Kenyan Airways: Bangkok, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Beijing, Mumbai, Dubai
  • South African Airways: Mumbai, Hong Kong

Nearly all North African countries along with Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, & Somaliland have extensive connections with the Middle East. And similarly, countries with large Muslim populations are likely to have a connection to Jedda/Mecca either year-round or seasonal (e.g. during hajj). North African destinations aside, connections with the Middle East include:

  • Emirates flies from Dubai to: Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Dar Es Salaam, Durban, Entebbe, Johannsburg, Khartoum, Lagos, Luanda, Mauritius, Nairobi, & Mahe.
  • Qatar Airways flies from Doha to: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Mahe, & Lagos.
  • Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul to: Dakar, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Cape Town, & Johannesburg.

Other flights from East and South Asia include the following: Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong. Furthermore, due to increased Chinese investment many cities have service from Beijing, cities with direct flights to Beijing-Capital include Luanda, Algiers, Lagos, Khartoum, Addis Ababa, & Harare. Malaysian Airlines serves Johannesburg from Kuala Lumpor. Korean Air serves Cairo from Seoul. Air Austral flies to Bangkok seasonally from Reunion. Air Seychelles flies to Singapore and Male from Mahe. Air Madagascar flies from Antananarivo to Bangkok & Guangzhou.Air Mauritius flies from Mauritius to Bangalore, Chennai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, & Singapore.

The best option to fly from East or South Asia is likely on Emirates or Qatar, both of which have a decent selection of destinations in Asia & Africa, or via Europe on airlines such as British Airways, Air France, or Lufthansa which all offer an extensive number of destinations across Africa.

From Australia

There are only a handful of connections to Australia, primarily to Johannesburg. Flights from Johannesburg include: Perth (South African Airways), Melbourne (V Australia, begins March 2010), & Sydney (Qantas).

There are also flights to the Indian Ocean islands of Reunion & Mauritius, including: Air Austral (Saint Denis-Sydney), Air Mauritius (Mauritius-Perth, Mauritius-Melbourne, and Mauritius-Sydney [beginning 5 July 2010]).

By road/ferry

The only land connection to another continent is the 163km-wide Isthmus of Suez, which is found in Egypt (although the Sinai peninsula is sometimes considered a part of Africa for geopolitical reasons). Thus the only way to drive into Africa is to drive through Egypt. Most people driving from the Middle East to Africa travel through Jordan and take a short car ferry to Egypt to avoid transiting Israel, since Egypt’s two African neighbors (Sudan & Libya) deny entry for persons with Israeli stamps or Egyptian/Jordanian stamps indicating travel to Israel.

Despite there being just one, narrow land crossing into the continent, there are other ways to bring vehicles into Africa by short car ferries. The short crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco is crossed by several ferries daily and relatively inexpensive. Other car ferries include:

  • Italy -Tunisia ferries are operated by a couple of different companies: [1]. However, you must pass through Algeria to Mauritania/Niger -or- Libya to Egypt, both very expensive and difficult to enter with a car.
  • Yemen -Djibouti ferries may be running weekly or more frequently (information about this crossing is little and conflicting) to avoid Egypt (because of the extremely high import taxes) or Sudan (as the Ethiopian-Sudan border is prone to banditry). It is also possible to cross by dhow in motorcycles or small/light vehicles.
  • Port Said, Sudan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia car ferries are run daily and are a great way to avoid the veryhigh tariffs to enter Egypt, although visas for SA are difficult to obtain.

Several overland trucks make journeys which cross between Europe or the Middle East and Africa, these companies are listed below under “Get around/Overland trucks”.

By ship

Many Mediterranean cruises stop in North African countries such Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, the Canary Islands, & Cape Verde. Some ocean liners will stop in the Canary or Cape Verde Islands on trans-Atlantic crossings or in South Africa, Madagascar, Zanzibar, the Seychelles, or Mauritius on round-the-world trips.

Elsewhere is Africa, cruises are limited to luxury or ’boutique’ cruise lines often aboard small vessels and quite expensive or “freighter cruises ” which do not offer much to “passengers” but may spend a few days in a handful of ports. Grimaldi Freighter Cruises, [3], has weekly departures to West Africa making the round-trip from Amsterdam in 38 days.

The Seychelles, Reunion, & Mauritius are popular destinations for yachts and private vessels, but piracy around the Horn of Africa has kept a lot of the European vessels away.

For a truly unique experience, take the RMS St Helena [4] from the UK to Cape Town via St Helena-one of the world’s most remote islands!

Get around



By plane

There are a number of reliable airlines that ply the African Continent. Chief among them are certainly:

  • South African Airways (SAA) (Johannesburg, South Africa), [5], has daily flights to most major Southern, Eastern, & Central African political and economic hubs. If you’re flying from the Northern Hemisphere to somewhere north of South Africa, don’t forget to check how much backtracking you’ll have to do, and if it’s worth it. The flight from Washington does stop in Senegal, but if you get off there, SAA has no connections to anywhere else.
  • Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), [6] carries more passengers than any other African airline and offers a direct service from many European cities & Washington to its hub Addis Ababa. From there it has a very good coverage to many cities in Africa. The flight from/to Washington refuels in Rome. Its mileage can be used on Lufthansa services & Lufthansa miles can also be used on Ethiopian.
  • Kenya Airways (Nairobi, Kenya), [7], partly owned by Royal Dutch KLM, offers good service and frequent flights to all East African countries and many other major African destinations.

There are also many airlines which are noteworthy in particular regions, such as TAAG Angola Airlines (South/Central Africa), Arik Air(Nigeria), Afriqiyah Airways (Central/West Africa, but their hub is in Tripoli), Royal Air Maroc (West/Central/North Africa, but hub is in Morocco), Air Mali (West Africa), Air Burkina (West Africa), Air Austral (Indian Ocean), Air Mauritius (Indian Ocean), Tunis Air (North Africa), and more. Many other African carriers offer flights to more remote locations.

Consider airline safety when flying in Africa. Although SAA, Ethiopian Airlines, & Kenya Airways all meet EU & FAA safety standards, the same isn’t true for all airlines, especially smaller domestic carriers in countries where political stability may be lacking, tenuous or only recently reintroduced. Check with the EU Commision on Air Safety [8] for a list of airlines that do not meet their safety standards.

By car

Bloukrans Bridge along South Africa's Garden Route.

If you want to drive your own car around Africa see also Carnet de Passage

For sightseeing trips, it may be less expensive to hire a taxi than to rent a car, but be sure to negotiate taxi fares beforehand. Travel on rural roads can be slow and difficult in the dry season and disrupted by floods in the rainy season. If you plan on traveling in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, avoid the rainy months of May through October above the equator and the rainy months of November through April below the equator. Some roads may be flooded or washed out during these months.

Travel by car outside large towns can be dangerous. Major roads are generally well maintained but there are few divided highways in Africa. In addition, rural auto accidents are fairly common because of high speed limits and the presence of wildlife in these areas. Night driving, especially in rural areas, is not recommended, and visitors are encouraged to hire reputable tour operators for safaris or other game viewing expeditions.

By bus

Bus service is extensive in Africa and in almost all countries it is the main means of transportation for locals and tourists alike. Styles of busses and minibusses vary across the continent, refer to country pages for more info.

By thumb

Many locals hitchhike in countries throughout Africa, often paying a small fee to the driver. It is best to check the political and social climate of each region before traveling.

In the whole of Africa it is possible to flag down cars and pay them a required fee and get a lift in return. That is just the way public transport works in this part of the world – he who has a means of transportation, that is a car or minibus, is automatically expected to give lifts to others and of course charge them a small amount of money for the favor. The idea of it has nothing to do with the Western idea of hitchhiking.

Overland trucks

Some people with limited amounts of time or who would prefer not to make their own arrangements opt for the “overlander” experience. Many operators run tours in large trucks that are comfortable and equipped with facilities for around 8-30 persons. They’re generally run on a pretty tight schedule and cover a lot of distance, such as “Nairobi to Johannesburg in six weeks”. These tours are run throughout the whole continent but East and Southern Africa are by far the most popular destinations. Accommodation is mostly camping with tents provided. Most meals are arranged and many are prepared by those on the trip (cooking duties rotated throughout the trip), and free time (like everything else) is scheduled. However, there is plenty of time to participate in the adventure activities that certain areas of Africa are famous for such as Victoria Falls, Swakopmund, Zanzibar, and Serengeti National Park. Some people really enjoy these tours, especially when they do not have enough time to organize all travel arrangements themselves. Others loathe the very thought of traveling in a group and think that they keep you way out of touch with the “real” Africa. Whatever the case, they’re a very different way to travel through Africa. The people that go on these tours tend to be young at heart and slightly adventurous; these tours are not luxury trips.

By train

A train in Zambia.

Passenger railroads in Africa are sparse and the majority are short and within one country. South Africa and Egypt are the two countries with significant passenger railroad services. There is also a handful of interconnected railroads running from Botswana through Zimbabwe & Zambia to Tanzania (which will connect to Rwanda by 2012). Morocco has two modern, fast train lines connecting most major cities. In Kenya, there is a Mombasa -Nairobi -Kisumu line which is popular for wildlife spotting. Namibia has a line running from Swakopmund to Windhoek and south to near the South African border.

There are also a handful of very old, slow trains in Africa: Wadi Halfa -Khartoum, Sudan (with a short ferry on Lake Aswan, you can continue north to Cairo); Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso -Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire ; Dakar, Senegal -Bamako, Mali (stopped running summer 2009); a couple trains in the DRC ; and short lines in Cameroon & Gabon. The Chinese are currently building railroad lines in Angola which should open in the next few years.

For a unique experience, you can ride the longest train in the world in Mauritania in either the caboose or atop open iron ore carriages.

By boat

Pirogue on the Niger River in Mali.

Where there is water, there is usually boat services to some extent. In the DRC boats are the primary means of transportation due to the extensive network of rivers and lack/quality of roads. Some noteworthy river travels in Africa are:

Along the Niger River small, wooden piroguesvarying in design from a 2 person canoe to wide, ~10 person boats with a canopy and toilet. Travelling by pirogue is slow, but the Sahelian scenery and people you meet on the boat and during stops make this a memorable African experience. Due to cataracts, pirogues on the Niger only operate in Mali & Niger

Along the Congo River large, old and often overcrowded ferries connect cities along the river in the Congo, DRC, & Central African Republic. Small boats from villages come out and moor themselves to these ferries to sell food and merchandise and the boat is a bustling marketplace of hundreds of people much of the time. Conditions aboard these ferries are poor and bearable only by the most seasoned of travellers. Talk to the captain to see if you can use one of the handful of rooms to sleep.


Flora & Fauna

A giraffe in Niger.

Many visitors are attracted by the African flora and fauna and several countries benefit from Safari tourism to African National Parks.

Natural Wonders

Africa is home to many famous natural wonders, from the Nile River, the world’s longest river, to Victoria Falls.


Historical Civilizations

While the continent’s diverse and unique wildlife is often all that is mentioned in regards to African travel, as home to the oldest civilizations on the planet, Africa has equally impressive cultures and history. The most famous civilization on the continent, and arguably in the world, is that of ancient Egypt. From the southern city of Abu Simbel to Luxor and all the way north to Alexandria and Cairo, including the Pyramids of Giza, the only surviving of the original Seven Wonders of the World and the most iconic symbols of this ancient kingdom. Sites from the Nubian-Kushite Kingdom that broke away from Egypt can be found in Sudan, such as Gebel Barkal and many other pyramids in Meroe.

Ethiopia offers many ruins from the ancient Axumite Kingdom where the Queen of Sheba ruled. The obelisks and Dungur ruins in Axum were built prior to the kingdom’s conversion to Christianity, while many other great monuments, such as the Ezana Stone and the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, where the Arc of the Covenant is said to be stored, were built after the conversion as religious sites. Other famous Christian structures built later by the kingdom’s successor, the Abyssinian Empire, especially during the 12th and 13th centuries, can also be found in Lalibela.

In West Africa, structures from the ancient Mali Empire can be found in Timbuktu and Djenne. Although there are Islamic influences, the architectural style of the Malian Kingdom’s mosques are still quite unique and recognizably African. The cliff dwellings in Mali’s Dogon Country, built by the Dogon people, are also impressive ancient structures in Mali. Often overshadowed by Africa’s other monuments, Sungbo’s Eredo in Ijebu Ode, Nigeria, built by the Yoruba people, is actually the largest pre-colonial structure remaining on the continent. Today it towers over the city, covered in vegetation.

Ruins from the ancient Swahili culture can be found in the coastal areas of East Africa, particularly in Kenya and Tanzania. The Swahili structures combines elements of African architecture with Islamic architecture, which was quite prominent around the 14th century. Some of the most famous Swahili structures include the Gedi Ruins and Pillar Tombs around Malindi and Kilwa Kisiwani. Zanzibar’s Stone Town features Swahili structures spanning hundreds of years from its early days to the 18th century.

In Southern Africa, the ruins of Great Zimbabwe have fascinated visitors ever since Europeans discovered them. No one had believed that the inhabitants of black Africa were capable of creating any great monuments on their own until the ruins of this ancient culture were discovered.

Roman structures are scattered throughout North Africa, with the ancient city of Carthage being the most well-known abroad. Many cities, such as Leptis Magna, Timgad, and Dougga feature Roman ruins as impressive as those in Europe itself. Many other European structures can be found throughout the continent, dating back to the earliest days of imperialism.




Africa does not have tall, jagged mountain ranges comparable to the Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, or Alps and there are very few mountains requiring technical gear. The Atlas Mountains across Morocco, Algeria, & Tunisia ; the Drakensberg in South Africa & Lesotho ; the Semian Mountains in Ethiopia ; and the Rwenzori Mountains between Uganda & the DRC are the only considerable mountain ranges on the continent, all with numerous peaks which can be easily climbed. Additionally, there are some tall volcanoes along the Great Rift Valley, on the Indian Ocean islands, & in Cameroon. Some of the continent’s most climbed or unique mountains are:

  • Mount Kilimanjaro (5895m) in Tanzania near the Kenya border is the continent’s highest peak, the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, and perhaps the most climbed mountain on the continent, owing to its accessibility and the lack of need of technical gear. The range of scenery one passes from base to peak makes it a destination almost all climbers have on their wishlist.
  • Mount Kenya (5199m) is Kenya ‘s tallest mountain and also popular climb with many non-technical walking and climbing routes through lush scenery and is less than 100km from Nairobi. The surrounding national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Jbel Toubkal (4165m) near Marrakech, Morocco is the tallest peak in the Atlas Mountains and can be climbed without technical gear in summer.
  • Mount Cameroon (4040m) in Cameroon is an active volcano that rises straight out of the ocean and is covered in tropical forest and almost always shrouded in clouds/mist. Fast-paced hikes to the top and back are possible in a day.
  • Mount Nyiragongo (3470m) in the DRC on the Rwanda border is one of just 3-4 volcanoes in the world with a lava lake in its crater. A climb takes ~8 hours and involves camping on a ledge at the top—a safe 700m above the lake—for the night (of course, the steaming, bubbling lava is more spectacular at night).

Abseiling and rock climbing can be done in many parts of Africa, with many opportunities in South Africa.

Trekking & hiking

Most of Africa’s mountain ranges and highlands are suitable for trekking. The Drakensberg in South Africa & Lesotho, Ethiopian Highlands, and Mali’s Dogon Country are the most popular trekking destinations in Africa and most guidebooks to these countries describe the most popular routes. In the dense jungles of the CAR & DRC treks, almost always organized, to pygmy settlements are available. Established trekking routes exist in the forests of Guinea’s Fouta Djallon highlands and Cameroon.

The Aïr Massif in Niger is popular for hiking around its sand scraped rock formations and oases, usually short distances from your camel or vehicle transport. Hiking can also be done in many forests with established paths. In Uganda, Rwanda, & the adjacent DRC, hiking to see the endangered mountain gorilla is a major tourism draw, although permits are US$500 to spend hours hiking through tropical forests to spend 1 hour in close proximity to the gorillas.

Sport fishing


There are a good number of great scuba diving sites across Africa. The Red Sea off Egypt offers clear, tranquil waters. Diving in the Indian Ocean is common off all islands and on the continent from Kenya south. Diving in South Africa is most famous for “shark dives”, where divers are lowered in cages to watch sharks feed on bait, although other diving opportunities exist. Few locations inland are popular with divers; Lake Malawi —which is clear, deep and filled with unique species—is the only lake with a significant number of dive operators.

Relax on a beach

Africa has a very long coastal line with thousands of beautiful beaches as it is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.



Football is the most widespread and popular sporting event with games between countries usually drawing tens of thousands of patriotic, cheering fans filling basic stadiums. Watching a football match in Africa is a must; try to dress in the colors of the home team and join the cheering celebration with your neighbors! The quadrennial African Cup of Nations (Angola in 2010) is the continent’s premier championship. South Africa played host to the first African FIFA World Cup in 2010.

Rugby is played by several former British colonies in Southern & Eastern Africa.




CFA franc usage: West African (green), Central African (red).

The three easiest currencies to exchange within Africa are the Euro, US Dollar, & Pound Sterling. In some countries with a large tourism sector Australian & Canadian dollars and Japanese Yen maybe exchanged at large banks and some currency exchanges, but you will receive a poor exchange rate as these currencies are uncommon and more troublesome for the banks in turn to exchange. The continent is roughly split between a blocks where the US dollar is easiest to exchange and use and where the euro is.

Due to concerns about counterfeiting, money exchangers, banks, and most likely even merchants will not accept US dollar banknotes that are worn or older than 2001. As strange as that sounds, it seems to be a steadfast rule amongst anyone dealing much in dollars and you will find it difficult or even impossible to dispose of worn or pre-2001 dollar banknotes. The same does not seem to hold true for euros, but may for other non-African currencies.

With few exceptions, African currencies are generally not accepted by banks or money changers outside their native territory, or at least not at a decent exchange rate. The currencies of some smaller countries are non-exchangeable and become worthless abroad, with some countries prohibiting export of their currencies and confiscating and even fining people leaving the country with currency (most notably the Angolan kwanza).

There are three currency unions in Africa:

Despite sharing the same name and same exchange rate (655.957 CFA francs = 1 Euro), the two “CFA franc” currencies are issued by different banks and are NOT interchangeable. A 1000 CFA franc banknote from Gabon will not be accepted by a merchant in Benin, and vica versa. Indeed, even with banks and money changers it will likely be easier (and you’ll receive a better exchange rate) to exchange Euros or even US dollars. Given the fixed exchange, if visiting any of these countries, euros will receive a more favorable exchange rate.

The Mauritanian ouguiya & Malagasy ariary are the only two non-decimal currencies currently in use in the world, divided into 1/5th fractions known as khoums & iraimbilanja, respectively.

US dollar

The US dollar has been the de factocurrency of Zimbabwe since the collapse of the Zimbabean dollar and allowance of foreign currency as tender in January 2009. The Djiboutian franc (117.721=$1) and Eritrean nakfa (16.5=$1) are pegged to the dollar.

The US dollar is the easiest currency to exchange (and may receive a better exchange rate compared to the euro) in Southern Africa and East Africa, as well as the DRC, Nigeria, & Liberia. Many tour operators, tourist attractions, and hotels in these regions set their prices in dollars, some even going as far as to offer poor exchange rates for or even refuse local currency. Also, many countries in these regions set their visa prices in dollars and will only accept dollars (or perhaps pound sterling).


The euro is the official currency of France’s Mayotte & Reunion territories and Spain’s Canary Islands. The West & Central African CFA francs are pegged to the euro at 655.975 (formerly, simply 100 to the French franc). The Moroccan dirham is pegged (with a fluctuation band) to the euro at roughly 10 dirhams to one euro. The Cape Verdean escudo is pegged at 110.265 to one euro and the Comoran franc is pegged at 491.9678 to one euro. The Sao Tome and Principe dobra will become fixed to the euro sometime in 2010 or 2011.

The Euro is the easiest currency to exchange and receives the best exchange rate in countries whose currencies are fixed to the euro, with strong European ties, and/or where the majority of tourists are European. This generally corresponds with North Africa, the Sahel, West Africa, & Central Africa with the exceptions of Egypt, Sudan, & Ghana, neither the euro nor dollar is better, and Nigeria, the DRC, & Liberia. Due to the relevantly recent creation of the Euro and long-standing status of the dollar, beware that there are some regions of Africa where people either have never heard of the euro or will see it as worthless.

South African rand

The South African rand is an official currency and widely circulated in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, & Namibia. Although the latter three issue their own currencies, they are pegged 1:1 with the rand and are not legal tender in the other countries as is the SA rand. The rand has also been accepted in Zimbabwe since the Zimbabwean dollar’s demise, but not as widely as the US dollar. It is also readily exchanged (but not accepted for payment) in Botswana & Mozambique.


Prohibited items

Trade in ivory is prohibited by nearly all countries in the world, with hefty penalties and even jail time for offenders. Many animal products (some commonly found in fetish markets) are also banned by western countries, such as tortoise shells, tusks of any animal, or any part of or item made with an endangered species. Some African countries keen on conservation will prosecute all violators to the fullest extent of the law…so be careful when purchasing animal products unless you want to spend years in an African prison. Keep in mind that even if an item may be exported from an African country it may be illegal to import into a Western country; both the EU and US have strict laws on importing animal products in the name of conservation.

Some medications which may be purchased without a prescription in Western countries or parts of Africa may contain ingredients considered illegal narcotics or controlled substances in some countries. In particular, diphenhydramine is a “controlled substance” in Zambia and several Americans have been fined and jailed on drug-trafficking charges for possession the over-the-counter allergy medicine Benadryl (elsewhere called Dimedrol) and the pain reliever Advil PM whose main active ingredient is diphenhydramine.

Drug trafficking is as common an offense as in most Western countries. The list of what substances are considered drugs varies from country to country. Beware khatwhich is readily grown and consumed in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa is considered a drug in most other African countries. Organized drug trafficking is a major problem in Guinea, & Guinea-Bissau en route from South America to Europe.

As with most countries, check local laws concerning antiquities before trying to leave the country with anything that appears to be over 100 years old.


Internet access


Stay safe

Africa has a bad reputation for genocidal dictators and while most of Africa is safe for travel and nearly all tourist attractions on the continent are far from conflict, there are a few regions in which conflict and/or general lawless exists.

Somalia, where warlords have fought for control since the collapse of the central government in 1993, and the Central African Republic, where general lawlessness and rebels exist throughout most of the country, should only be visited by experienced travellers who are verycompetent regarding the dangers that exist. For 99.999% of travellers, these areas should be considered no-go regions. Exceptions are Somaliland which is de factoindependent and quite safe and the CAR’s isolated Dzanga Sangha National Reserve.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to the second largest jungle after the Amazon and most of the country is impassable by land. The eastern and northeastern regions are home to rebels and general lawlessness and have recently been home to the bloodiest conflict since World War 2. Safe regions are the west (incl. Kinshasa), south (near Zambia border, incl. Lubumbashi), and a few spots onthe border, such as Goma, Bukavu, & Virunga National Park.

The Central Sahara is host to numerous problems, notably a growing presence (or at least impact) of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in much of Saharan Algeria, northern Mali (north of Timbuktu, east of Gao, and near the Nigerien border), and far eastern Mauritania has resulted in several kidnappings (incl. one Briton beheaded, kidnapped near the Mali-Niger border) and a couple of suicide bombings in Nouakchott. A Tuareg uprising has left much of the area around Agadez, once a popular tourist destination, off-limits and unsafe. Several borders in the Sahara are closed or very unsafe as a result of banditry: Libya-Sudan (closed), Libya-Chad (closed), Chad-Sudan (unsafe due to Darfur conflict), Chad-Niger (banditry), Libya-Niger (banditry), Mali-Algeria (no road crossings, AQIM), Algeria-Mauritania (AQIM), & Algeria-Morocco (closed).

Portions of Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, & Chad are home to rebels and it is important to obtain up-to-date information on which parts of these countries are safe to visit (see warnings on those pages). Nigeria has a poor reputation for conflict largely based on events 20+ years ago and, at present, only a small region around the Niger Delta is unsafe to visit. Similarly, Sudan only the western Darfur regions and south-central “boundary” between the conflicting North-South are dangerous.

As of February 2010, the authoritarian governments of Eritrea & Guinea have been hostile to the West following harsh condemnations of authoritarianism, massacres of civilians, & refusal of food aid. Niger had a coup in February 18 2010 and instability (especially in the capital) is possible in coming months. While it is physically safe & possible to visit these countries, beware political unrest.


Africa can certainly be a dangerous continent. Check the “stay safe” areas of the individual countries you are going to.


In most parts of Africa dangerous wildlife should be of only very minor, if any, concern at all. In some parts of East Africa and South Africa large abundances of potentially dangerous animals can be found, but the majority of the time any traveler would most likely be perfectly safe in a vehicle with their tour guide. Nonetheless, attacks and deaths do occur (rarely with foreigners, but commonly with locals) and it is best to be well-informed. Nile crocodiles can be extremely dangerous and swimming is not an option in most low-lying portions of East Africa. Lions and leopards can be dangerous, but you are unlikely to encounter them on foot unless you are being extremely foolish. Large herbivores such as Elephants and Rhinos can also be very dangerous if aggravated, even while in a vehicle. Venomous snakes exist and are plentiful, but are very shy and you are unlikely to even see one let alone be bitten by one. Most insects in the country are no more dangerous than what you would find in any other country, and the spiders are mostly harmless to humans. Despite all of this, easily the most dangerous non-human animal in the entire African continent is the mosquito.


Stay healthy

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of HIV and AIDS infection on Earth. A 2005 UN Report says over 25 million infected, over 7% of adults, for the continent as a whole. Be extremely cautious about any sexual activity in Africa. Especially note that the rates of HIV infection among sex workers is phenomenally high.

See also Tropical diseases and Tips for travel in developing countries.

Category: Uncategorized  | Comments off
• Monday, October 11th, 2010


WARNING : Traveling in Afghanistan is extremely dangerous. Large parts of the country — in particular, most of the South and East — are effectively a war zone. Threats are unpredictable and the situation can change very quickly.

Trips should be meticulously planned and travellers should keep abreast of the latest security situation throughout their stay. If, despite the risks, you still find yourself heading there, see War zone safety and the “Stay safe” section below.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country in the heart of Asia, bordered by Pakistan to the south and east, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north. There is a short border with China to the far northeast, but in extremely inaccessible terrain.

Afghanistan has been the center of many powerful empires for the past 2,000 years. However, in the last 30 years the country has been in chaos due to major wars — from the Soviet invasion of 1979 to their withdrawal in 1989 and from warlordism to the removal of the Taliban in 2001 and the ensuing American and NATO invasion. Economically, Afghanistan is considered poor compared to many other nations of the world. The country is currently going through a nation-wide rebuilding process so that it can once again become a sovereign and peaceful place as it was before 1979.


Afghanistan has spent the last 3 decades in the news for all the wrong reasons. While visiting has not been advisable for several years, it has much to offer the intrepid traveler. That said, even the more adventurous should consider looking elsewhere for thrill-seeking at the moment.


Temperatures in the north can be below freezing for most of the winter, and snow in the higher elevations is common. Summertime highs in lower elevations (such as Kandahar) can exceed 50C/120F. In higher areas such as Kabul, summer temperatures can be 30C/90F and winter around 0C/30F. The most pleasant weather in Kabul is during April, May and September.


Mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest. The Hindu Kush mountains run northeast to southwest, dividing the northern provinces from the rest of the country, with the highest peaks found in the northern Wakhan Corridor. South of Kandahar is desert.

The lowest point is Amu Darya at 258 meters, and the highest is Nowshak at 7,485 meters.


The Blue Mosque in Mazar i Sharif.

Afghanistan is a very ethnically diverse country. Tribal and local allegiances are strong, which complicates national politics immensely.

The Largest ethnic groups are the Pashtuns, Tajiks/Persians, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.

Baloch tribesmen, still largely nomadic, can be found anywhere between Quetta in Pakistan and Mashad in Iran, including much of Western Afghanistan. They make marvellous rugs, if somewhat simple.

There are about 30,000 to 150,000 Hindus and Sikhs living in different cities but mostly in Jalalabad, Kabul, and Kandahar who belong to the Punjabi, Sindhi, Kabuli, and Kandhari ethnic groups.

Hazaras in the Central mountains look much more Asiatic than other Afghans. According to some theories, they are descended from Ghengis Khan’s soldiers.

The two largest linguistic groups speak Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian). Pashto speakers predominate in the South and East, Dari inNorth, west and central Afghanistan. About 11% of the population have Turkic languages, Uzbek or Turkmen, as their first language. Many of them are in the North, near Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.


Afghanistan was created as a nation in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, with its capital at Kandahar. The country has a long history of warfare, mostly against invaders such as Alexander of Macedon, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Persians, and the British. Its recent history is no exception.

The Afghan Girl

The June 1985 cover of National Geographic[1] displayed the most haunting image of the Afghan War: a young Afghan girl, with piercing sea-green eyes and a dilapidated hijab. The photo, taken by Steve McCurry in Pakistan in 1984, became the icon of the troubles in Afghanistan. But, for 17 years, no one knew the girl’s name. Then in 2002, following the defeat of the Taliban, National Geographic finally located the girl and her identity: Sharbat Gula. She vividly recalled being photographed and recognized her face as the one in the photo. Today, in her honor, NG now runs a fund to educate young Afghan girls, who were denied education under the Taliban.

The Soviet Union invaded in 1979, to support a local socialist government. They were forced to withdraw 10 years later by anti-Communist mujahideen rebels, who were supplied and trained by the US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and others. Fighting subsequently continued among the various mujahideen factions, giving rise to a state of warlords.

The Taliban grew out of this chaos, providing a solution to what was by this time a civil war. Backed by foreign sponsors, and inspired by a conservative sect of Islam, Taliban developed as a political force to end the civil war and bring security to the country. They eventually seized power and controlled most of the country, aside from some areas in the northeast.

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, the Taliban refused to hand-over Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida militants. The US and allies decided to take military action with support from anti-Taliban Afghans and Pakistan’s government, causing the Taliban’s government to fall in December 2001.

That same month, representatives from all ethnic groups of Afghanistan met in Germany and agreed to form a new democratic government with Hamid Karzai as Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority. Following a nationwide election in 2004, Hamid Karzai was elected as President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. A year later, in 2005, legislative elections were held and the country’s parliament began functioning again. In addition to occasionally violent political jockeying and ongoing military action to root out anti-government elements, the country suffers from poverty, corruption, and widespread opium cultivation.

In 2005, the United States and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement committing both nations to a long-term relationship. In the meantime approximately 30 billion US dollars are being spent on the reconstruction of the nation, most of this funding came from America with some from European and Asian countries such as Britain, Germany, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and others.


Officially 220V 50Hz. Electricity supplies are erratic but slowly improving in major cities. Voltage can drop to below 150V in some places. The Afghans’ enthusiasm for homemade generators or modifying low quality ones means that the frequency and voltage can also vary wildly.

There are three types of electrical outlets likely to be found in Afghanistan. They are the old British standard BS-546, the newer British standard BS-1363 and the European standard CEE-7/7 “Schukostecker” or “Schuko”. There is no single recognized standard. Hence, you may encounter any or all of these outlet types there. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers should pack adapters for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Afghanistan. You may also find cheap universal adapters in the local markets.



Map of Afghanistan

English spellings of Afghan place names vary. For example, Q may replace K as in Qandahar or Qunduz. Konduz will be seen spelled as Qunduz, Qundoz, Qundoze and variations on these. Bamiyan is often spelled as Bamian or Bamyan. Khowst may be spelt as Khost.


Other destinations

Get in


Most visitors need to apply for a visa in advance, and are often easier to obtain than you might expect. See the Afghanistan Foreign Ministry’s visa webpage [3].

By plane

Passengers boarding plane at Kabul Airport.

Kabul International Airport (IATA : KBL) in Kabul is the main entry point to the country. In late 2008, the barely functioning old terminal was refurbished and is now being used for domestic flights, while the brand new Japanese-constructed terminal is up and running and fielding international flights.

The national carrier, Ariana Afghan Airlines [4], is flying with a small fleet of about 14 Airbuses and Boeings (plus Antonovs). They have daily flights from Dubai, and periodic flights from Frankfurt, Islamabad, Delhi, Istanbul, Baku and Tehran. Ariana is particularly bad at keeping to schedules, flights can be cancelled or delayed without notice.

A far better option is the independent operator Kam Air [5], which has twice daily flights from Dubai, twice weekly flights from Delhi and weekly flight from Almaty, Istanbul and Mashad. Some of the flights on the Dubai to Kabul route stop in Herat if you’d prefer to enter the country there. Pamir Airways [6] is a new private airline that offers daily flights between Kabul and Dubai ($330 inbound, $210 outbound), some stopping in Herat.

Air Arabia [7] flies 4 times per week from Sharjah – however they have currently suspended operations. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) [8] flies 4 times per week from Islamabad and 1 time per week from Peshawar to Kabul. Another route in may be via through Tehran or Mashad in Iran. Iran Air [9] has periodic flights from Tehran to Kabul. Air India [10] operates six flights a week from Delhi to Kabul.

The best and safest airline between Dubai and Kabul is Safi Air. They are the only safety accredited airline in Afghanistan. Safi is the only Afghan airline allowed to fly into Europe and has direct flights to Frankfurt, Germany. The service is good and planes are sound. Staff are professional.

Flights to other cities such as Mazar-e Sharif may be available if you can hook up with the charter company PACTEC [11] however seating is very limited.

By car

The famous Khyber Pass is currently closed to anyone except Afghans or Pakistanis. Some travel blogs/forums claim that hiding in a vehicle and bribing the border guards works, but doing so is very risky and could lead to imprisonment. Even more risky, however, is the threat from Taliban near the pass, who have been known to kill/rob/kidnap Westerners. You are strongly discouraged from passing through the Khyber Pass. (May 2009)

There are a number of roads into Afghanistan:

As of mid-2009, none of these routes can be considered safe. The Khyber and the Quetta to Kandahar route are particularly dangerous.

By bus

Buses run regularly between Jalalabad and Peshawar, Pakistan. Also, between Herat and Mashad, Iran. Afghani buses are thouroughly checked by Iranian border police for possible drugs, so expect delays.

Get around

Tour agencies

  • Afghan Logistics & Tours, #106 Ansari Square, Street No 1, Shar-e Now, +9370 277 408, +9370 288 668, +93799 391462, [12]. One of the first and biggest travel companies in Afghanistan, with a South-East Asia branch office in Singapore.
  • The Great Game Travel Company, Street 3/1 House 2 Proje Taimani, +93 79 948 9120 (Kabul) or +93 79 968 6686 (Kabul) +44 28-9091-3001 (UK), [13]. Offers high security tours in central and northern Afghanistan.
  • Sitara Travel Consultants Waheed Plaza, 3rd Floor, 52 West Jinnah Avenue, Blue Area, P.O. Box 1662 Islamabad, Pakistan. +9251 287 3372-75, +9251 227 4892-93, [14]. Services Along The Silk Road.

By plane

Planes fly between Kabul and the major cities (Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif) at varying frequency.

By car

Highway between Jalalabad and Kabul.

There is a growing network of public transportation between the country’s cities. Buses ply some routes and Toyota vehicles have a near monopoly on minivan (HiAce) and taxi (Corolla) transportation.

Jeeps and Land Cruisers are available for hire along with drivers who speak some English. There are tour operators in Kabul that can provide a car and guide. Petrol stations are scarce in the countryside, and fuel is expensive.

Paved roads are the exception, not the rule, and even those roads can be in poor repair. Once outside the major cities expect dirt roads (which turn to mud during rain or snow melt). The highway between Kabul and Bagram is dominated by military convoys and “jingle trucks”.

Stay out of the way of military convoys! They travel fast and are heavily armed. Driving too close or approaching quickly from behind is an excellent way to be mistaken for a car bomber, and they WILL open fire if they feel threatened.

A new highway links Kabul to Kandahar. The highway is in good condition but should not be considered safe due to frequent attacks by anti-government forces such as the Taliban and the poor standard of driving. The trip takes a minimum of 5 hours.


Dari, an Afghan dialect of Persian, is the native language of about half the population. Pashto is the native language for about 35%, mainly in the South and East; it is also spoken in Pakistan. About 11% have a Turkic native language, primarily Uzbek and Turkmen, and there are also 30 minor languages such as Balochi. Most people speak more than one language; Dari is the historical lingua franca, widely spoken as a second language. You’ll find a few people in Kabul who speak a little English but otherwise it isn’t widely understood.

As to English it is now at the climax of its flourishing in Afghanistan & the percentage of those who speak English now has reached unprecedented rates. Mr, Karazai & his cabinet are fluent in English. English was taught at past from the seventh grade, but now is taught from the fourth grade. Signs in English in the streets now common all over the country. English is the second foreign language in Afghanistan.


Afghani (AFN) is, perhaps non-surprisingly, the currency of Afghanistan. As of December, 2009, US$ 1 equals about 48.50 Afghanis, while € 1 trades about 70 Afghanis.

Haggling is very much part of the tradition.

Afghanistan’s most famous products are carpets. There are carpets described as “Afghan”, but also at least two other carpet-weaving traditions. The Baluchi tribes in the South and West weave fine rugs, and the Turkoman tribes in the North do as well; both groups are also found in neighbouring countries. All three types tend to use geometric patterns in the design, usually with red as the background colour and with repeated elements called “guls” to make the pattern. Generally, these are not as finely woven as carpets from the cities of neighboring Iran. However, many of them are quite beautiful and their prices are (assuming good haggling) well below those of the top Iranian carpets.

  • Baluchi rugs are usually small since nomadic people cannot use large looms; sizes up to 1.5 by two meters (4×7 feet) are common, but not many beyond that. They are popular with travellers because they are fairly portable. One very common type is a prayer rug, just large enough for one person to kneel facing Mecca. Another is the “nomad’s chest of drawers” — a bag, often beautifully decorated, that is a saddlebag when travelling and hangs on the wall of the tent when camped.
  • Turkoman rugs, often labelled “Bokhara” in the Western rug trade, come in all sizes and a very broad range of quality. Some are woven by nomads, with the same range of sizes and types as Baluchi rugs. Others are made in city workshops; the best of these are almost as finely woven and almost as expensive as top-grade Persian carpets. One fairly common design is the Hatchli, a cross shape on a large rug.
  • Afghan rugs are generally made in city workshops, mainly for the export trade. They are often large; 3×4 meters (10×12 feet) is common. Most are quite coarsely woven to keep costs down, but others have a fairly fine weave. If you need a big rug for the living room at a moderate price, these are likely to be your best choice.

It is fairly common for rugs woven by nomads — such as many Baluchi rugs and some Turkoman — to show minor irregularities. The loom is dismantled for transport and re-assembled at the new camp, so the rug may not turn out perfectly rectangular. Vegetable dyes are often used, and these may vary from batch to batch, so some colour variation (arbrash) occurs and this may be accentuated as the rug fades. To collectors, most such irregularities come in the “that’s not a bug; it’s a feature” category; they are expected and accepted. In fact, a nice arbrash can considerably increase the value of a rug.

Turkoman designs are widely copied; it is common to see “Bokhara” carpets from India or Pakistan, China produces some, and the Afghan carpet designs show heavy Turkoman influence. To collectors, though, the original Turkoman rugs are worth a good deal more. Good Baluchi rugs are also quite valuable in Western countries. Afghan rugs, or lower grade Baluchi and Turkoman rugs, generally are not collectors’ items; most travellers will find the best buys among these. Experts might pay premium prices for the top-grade rugs, but amateurs trying that are very likely to get severely overcharged.

Kelims are flat-woven fabric with no pile. These are nowhere near as tough as carpets and will not survive decades on the floor as a good carpet will. However, some are lovely, and they are generally cheaper than carpets. Things like purses made of carpet or decorated with kelim weave are also common.

Another common product and popular souvenir is the Afghan sheepskin coat. These have the wool on the inside for warmth and the leather on the outside to block wind, rain and snow. They often have lovely embroidery. Two cautions, though. One is that the makers use the embroidery to hide flaws in the leather; top-quality coats will have little or no embroidery. The other is that Australian customs have been known to incinerate these coats on arrival, to protect their large sheep population from diseases (notably anthrax) that poorly tanned Afghan products might carry.

There are also various bits of metalwork — heavily decorated pots, vases and platters, and some quite nice knives.

Guns are very common in Afghanistan and some are of considerable interest to historians and collectors.

  • The traditional Afghan jezail is a long muzzle-loading rifle often elaborately inlaid with brass or mother-of-pearl. Be extremely cautious about actually firing one of these. The genuine ones are quite old, perhaps with metal fatigue or other problems. Many of the jezails available are not genuine, just copies made recently for the tourist trade; these were never designed to be firedand are more likely to kill the shooter than to hit a target.
  • There are also pass-made rifles, from the Khyber Pass area. The most common are copies of the 19th century British army Martini-Henry rifle, a single-shot lever action weapon. Some are.451 caliber like the original Martini-Henry, but some take a more modern round;.303 is common. Until the Russian invasion in the late 70s — when anyone who could kill a Russian, rob an armoury, or pay the price (i.e. almost any Afghan) got an AK-47 — these were the most common rifle in Afghanistan. There are also pass-made copies of various other guns, anything from Webley revolvers to AK-47s. Quality is often dodgy, in particular the steel is often of low quality, and firing any of these guns is risky. Ammunition made in the pass often contained less powder or lower-grade powder than the standard ammo; some pass-made guns blow up if subjected to the higher stress of standard ammo.

These make a rather problematic souvenir. Importing a firearm anywhere can be difficult and it may be impossible in some places. If you are travelling overland and passing through several countries before you reach home, it is almost certainly not worth the trouble. Also, if you actually fire any Afghan gun, there is a risk that it will blow up in the face of the shooter.


Afghanistan has several sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, including:

Almost every Afghan town has a fine mosque. Those of Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif are particularly remarkable.



Being an Islamic country, alcohol consumption is illegal. It is, however, tolerated in western restaurants in Kabul.


Hotels and guesthouses are available in all major cities, and while some may not meet international standards they are usually friendly and reliable.



Many foreigners are finding well paid work in Afghanistan as part of the reconstruction efforts. Often with the UN or other non-governmental organisations. Most of these jobs are within Kabul. Local wages are very low, especially outside of Kabul. However, everyone should read and understand the travel advice published by their respective governments or in the Stay safe section below.You will need a work visa if you are planning on working on a US military base.

Stay safe

Mine found by road crew

Afghanistan is a volatile country, and downright dangerous in the southern and eastern areas — non-essential travel is stronglydiscouraged. The Taliban has now declared abduction of foreigners to be one of its primary goals. In July 2007, twenty-three Koreans were kidnapped from a public bus in Ghazni province, south of Kabul. Two of them were murdered while the rest were set free several weeks later after controversial negotiations with the Korean government.

The northern part of the country is considered to be safer than the south and east, however occasional incidents can still occur anywhere and a seemingly safe place can become the opposite in an instant. Several German media reporters were killed in the northern parts of Afghanistan, most likely by criminals or anti-westerners. 10 doctors (8 foreigners and 2 translators) were murdered in August 2010.

Landmines and other UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) remain a problem across the country, so plan to stick to well-worn paths, avoid red and white painted rocks, and do not touch or move any suspicious-looking item. According to the Afghan Red Crescent Society, approximately 600-700 people are injured or killed every year in accidents due to landmines and UXO. This is greatly reduced from over 1,600 in 2002. While travelling in Afghanistan you are likely to see mine clearance organisations at work.

Insects and Snakes are also something to be careful of, as the mountainous country has many vicious tiny creatures such as scorpions, spiders, snakes, etc.

In some areas, altitude sickness is a significant risk.

If, after considering the risks, you still choose to travel in Afghanistan, hiring an armed escort or travelling with an experienced guide are ways to decrease the risks. You should also check with your embassy, and be clear on what they can and cannot do for you in an emergency.

See also: War zone safety

Stay healthy

Afghanistan has its fair share of health issues, and it would be wise to consult a travel doctor ahead of your trip about vaccinations and health risks. Respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis and food-related illness are common, and malaria is a risk in many parts of the country.

Afghanistan is one of the dustiest countries in the world, and you should be prepared to be covered in it and breathing it for most of your stay, even in the major cities. Pollution from diesel engines can also make life unpleasant.

Flies are notoriously heinous here, likely due to poor sanitation. Winter brings some relief, but they come back full-strength when spring arrives.

Food should be approached with a discerning eye, hygiene standards can often be lacking. Hot, freshly cooked food is generally safer. Bottled water is also advised, unless you have your own purification system.

Bring any prescription medicine you may need from your home country, don’t count on being able to find it locally. You may also consider carrying pain relievers and anti-diarrheals, as they’ll be hard to find outside of major cities.

As in most parts of Asia, squat toilets are the norm, and toilet paper optional and sometimes scarce. Western-style toilets are seen occasionally in newer buildings and some private homes.


Kabul women in burkas.
  • Women in all parts of Afghanistan wear the burqa or chadori. On the other hand, many women in Kabul and Herat these days don’t wear the burqa but rather put on the middle eastern style hijab, which is similar to Iranian fashion. Western women are highly encouraged to wear a head scarf (especially outside Kabul).
  • Showing the bottom of the foot is considered rude.
  • The farther south you go the more conservative the people are.


Fixed line service is available in major cities (digital in Kabul) and mobile phones in most cities. SIM cards are available and international calls to Europe/US typically cost less than $0.5/minute. Outside of major cities your options are limited to a satellite phone.

Mobile phones

  • Roshan [15] +93(0) 79 997 1333. The most reliable service with the widest coverage. SMS is possible to most countries. SIM cards cost $5, local calls are 5Af/minute (10 cents/min).
  • Afghan Wireless [16] Privately owned with 20% ownership by the government. AWCC has the only communications ring around the country offering high speed mobile and data services through out all provinces. AWCC also offers the highest speed fiber based connections to the out side world, with roaming to over 300 other operators in 120 countries. Services include Voice, FAX, GPRS and EDGE data services along with WiMAX and dedicated high speed internet service with 45MB links to NYC and 45MB links to Paris. SIM cards cost $1, local calls are 4.99Af/minute billing in seconds.
  • Areeba/MTN [17] +93(0) 77 222 2777. The cheapest cell service, offers the least coverage. SIM cards cost $3, local calls are 5.5Af/minute.
  • Etisalat [18] +93(0) 78 688 8888. A large network provider from the UAE, is the latest GSM network in Afghanistan.

Satellite phones

  • Thuraya [19] is the most reliable.

Category: Uncategorized  | Comments off
• Monday, October 11th, 2010


Adelaide [1] is the capital city of South Australia. In Adelaide, you can enjoy stylish architecture, boutique shopping, sandy swimming beaches, fabulous arts events, nightlife, fine dining, and some of Australia’s best café strips. Its population is slightly over 1 million, which makes it by far the largest city in the otherwise sparsely populated state. It is also known for having the conveniences of a large city, while at the same time being far less cosmopolitan than the “Big Four”.

Adelaide is centrally located among the wine regions of McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley, all of which are within day-trip distance.

Get in

By car

Adelaide is at least a days drive away from capital cities on the Australian east coast. The shortest route from Adelaide to Melbourne takes eight to nine hours. Roads are all paved, and there are some freeway sections, but it is mostly two lane roads of reasonable quality.

  • Melbourne – Adelaide = 736 km via Horsham (National Highway 8) or 901 km via Mt Gambier (National Highway 1)
  • Sydney – Adelaide = 1422 km via Wagga Wagga and Mildura (National Highway 20) or 1659 km via Broken Hill (National Highway 32). The road through Wagga will save you some hours due to freeway most of the way from Sydney to Wagga, and the fast straight road from Wagga past Hay. The road through Broken Hill is perhaps the more interesting route, however.
  • Adelaide – Brisbane = 2031 km via Broken Hill

By plane

Adelaide airport is around 7km to the west of downtown. West Beach, and excellent swimming beach with plenty of accommodation is located only 4km away.

Adelaide’s airport has regular international connections to Auckland (Air New Zealand [2]), Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific [3]), Denpasar (Pacific Blue [4]), Nadi (Pacific Blue [5]), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia Airlines [6]) and Singapore (Singapore Airlines [7] & Qantas [8]) as well as domestic connections to many Australian cities. Budget airlines Virgin Blue, [9] Jetstar [10] and Tiger Airways [11] offer the cheapest domestic airfares.

There is only a single terminal for international and domestic departures, and transfers are seamless.

The airport has ATM, currency change, food, shopping and lockers. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the terminal.

Between the airport and the city

The public JetBus services the airport, connecting airport and the city around every 15 minutes for most of the day. A ticket costs $4.40 during peak/$2.20 off-peak, and includes unlimited transfers within a 2 hours period. Alternatively a ‘multitrip’ ticket may be purchased for about $29 that will give you 10 trips (2 hours travel per trip, $2.90 per trip anytime). The city center can be reached with 15-25 minutes.

Skylink Adelaide operates a regular service to most traveler specified destinations within the CBD area from the airport, for example hotel drop off. The service is $8/$3.50, and services also run out to Keswick Interstate Railway Terminal ($4).

Taxis are available outside the terminal, at around $16 to the city centre (three people in a taxi to a hotel in the city is cheaper than the Skylink).

Rental cars are available.

By train

Great Southern Railway [12] runs long distance tourist train services, The Ghan runs to Alice Springs and Darwin, The Overland, runs to Melbourne, and the Indian Pacific runs to Perth, Broken Hill and Sydney. These journeys are train experiences, and offer sleepers, and the opportunity to take your car with you on the train. However, they take considerably longer and invariably cost more than the journey by bus or plane.

VLine runs a daily combined bus/train journey to Adelaide from Melbourne. You can connect from NSW Countrylink trains to connecting Vline buses at Albury or Benalla.

Get around

Public transport


Metropolitan train, tram and bus services are contracted out by the State Government under the unified brand name Adelaide Metro and use a unified ticketing system, “Metroticket”. The Adelaide Metro website [13] or the Passenger Transport InfoCentre (corner of King William & Currie Streets, Adelaide CBD) is the place to visit for timetable and route information. You have a choice of tickets:

  • Single trip tickets ($4.40 for adults ($2.20 in off-peak)) allow the passenger to move freely around the transport network for two hours. “Multi-trip” tickets containing 10 of these are also available; or
  • Alternatively, a $8.30 daytrip ticket is available, allowing unlimited travel within the Adelaide Metro area for an entire day. For tourists, this is worth purchasing if you are travelling for more than 2 hours in the one day.

Tickets and route information can be purchased from ticket machines on board trains (coins only), or from conductors on the tram or bus drivers. A small number of stations (Adelaide, Elizabeth, Gawler, Noarlunga Centre, Oaklands, and Salisbury), and a number of newsagents, delis and post offices also sell Metrotickets.

Accurate transit information can also be obtained through Google Maps.


The Adelaide Metro bus system is quite comprehensive, and extends out to the Adelaide Hills in the east, down to Maclaren Vale in the south (although buses there are infrequent) and as far as Gawler in the north. It does not cover the Barossa Valley. Routes that may be useful for tourists include:

  • 864F to Crafers Park & Ride, then 823 to Cleland Wildlife Park and Mount Lofty Summit (from Currie Street in Adelaide CBD, limited services per day)
  • 751W or 753 (from Noarlunga Centre station) – to Maclaren Vale (limited services per day)
  • 117, 118, 150, 156, 232 – to Port Adelaide (different routes)

The free City Loop (#99C) bus runs Monday-Friday 7:40AM-6PM every 15 minutes, Friday 6PM-9:20PM every 30 minutes, Saturday 8AM-5PM every 30 minutes and Sunday (and public holidays) 10AM-5PM every 30 minutes. It has clockwise and anticlockwise routes each with about thirty stops taking in all the major cultural and commercial centres, beginning at Victoria Square and including Adelaide Railway Station. The buses feature ground-level access ramps.

Be warned that bus frequency declines sharply after 6PM, with hourly intervals being typical in the suburbs. Some services cease operation before midnight, so check your timetables and expect to catch a taxi if required if you are out after this time. Some special ‘After Midnight’ bus services operate either half-hourly or hourly after midnight on Saturday nights.


There is a tram that runs from the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Hindmarsh (north of the city), through North Terrace and King William Street in the CBD, to the popular seaside suburb of Glenelg. You can park in the Entertainment Centre carpark and take the tram into the city, which is more convenient than finding parking within the city itself. Stops within the city centre include Adelaide Railway Station, Rundle Mall and Victoria Square. Tram travel within the city centre is free, as is travel confined to Jetty Road in Glenelg. Otherwise the standard ticket system applies and the whole trip takes about 30 minutes. Tickets may be bought in advance or purchased from the conductor.


The Adelaide Metro train system has four main lines, with two additional branch lines:

  • The Gawler Line, to Gawler Central in the north of the city.
  • The Outer Harbor Line, which goes up the Le Fevre Peninsula in the north-west of the city via Port Adelaide. A branch extends off this line to the beachside suburb of Grange.
  • The Noarlunga Line, which extends to Noarlunga Centre in the far south of the city, via the beachside suburb of Brighton. A short branch extends off this line to the suburb of Tonsley (which only operates Mon-Fri during business hours and peak hours).
  • The Belair Line which extends to Belair in the foothills of the Adelaide Hills to the south-east of the city.

Visitors may find the Outer Harbor line useful to get to Port Adelaide (although the station is about half a kilometre south of the port area, but is an easy walk up Commercial Road), the Belair Line useful to access Belair National Park, and the Noarlunga Line to access the seaside suburbs of Brighton and Hallett Cove. Some of the larger shopping centres are close to stations (for example Westfield Marion is very close to Oaklands Railway Station).

By foot

The city centre is compact and can be easily covered on foot. Most attractions are centred around the blocks between North Terrace and Victoria Square on either side of King William Street.

By taxi

Taxis are provided by several companies and can be hailed on the street or arranged by phone. There is a common rate of flagfall and a per-distance/time charge, both of which are increased at night and on weekends.

By bicycle

NGO “Bicycle SA” [14] provides a range of bicycle services, including free-to-use tourist bikes, from its offices in Currie Street, next to the Central Bus Station. Tel +61 8 232 2644. Bicycles can be hired, with the deposit of a drivers license or other ID, for the entire day for free, but must be returned before 4.30 or a $25 fee is payable. Arrangements can be made for bicycles to be hired overnight.


Glenelg Town Hall
The pier at Glenelg Beach
  • Historic beachside suburb of Glenelg offering a jetty, the ‘Grand’ (a quality hotel) and many restaurants and cafes. Catch one of the historic trams from in Adelaide’s CBD on weekends and holidays (or new ‘light rail’ trams other times).
  • Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide (provides a spectacular view of the city, especially at night)
  • Adelaide Hills, including the Mt Lofty Summit which provides spectacular views of the Adelaide plains, Adelaide metropolitan area, Adelaide CBD, Glenelg and surrounding areas. There is a restaurant at the Mt. Lofty summit, which is moderately priced and there is a souvenir shop which also offers tourist information. The summit cannot be accessed by vehicle between late evening and early morning hours, however the lookout is still accessible by foot.

Other lookouts include Windy Point along Belair Road, and Skye at the end of Kensington Road.

  • Hahndorf German settlement, a short drive up the freeway, attractions include a small chocolate factory, the Beerenberg Strawberry Farm (where you can pick your own strawberries for very reasonable prices!) parks with barbeque facilities and a playground plus many small stores selling all manner of products.
  • Walking North Terrace will take you past the Casino (Railway Station below), Parliament House, Government House, the State Library, Migration Museum (free entry), Art Gallery (free entry), Adelaide University, University of South Australia, Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Botanic Gardens. A worthwhile trek!
  • Catch an O-Bahn bus out to the North East suburban shopping centre of Tea Tree Plaza. The O-Bahn is a 12Km long guided bus way, where special street buses run on guided tracks at up to 100Kmh. It uses the unified metroticket system mentioned above.
  • During mid-March, the Clipsal 500 supercar racing event is very popular, sporting massive street parties, huge concert line-ups and many fanatic Adelaidians.
  • During late Feb-March, the Adelaide Fringe Festival (second largest of its type in the world) and Festival of Arts bring the city alive with music, arts, dance and culture from all over the world. Both are large and very popular events visited by people from all over the world. WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance) is another hugely popular music festival now held every year in March. People come from all over Australia and overseas to be at this very special event. Adelaide at its very best. If you are planning on visiting Adelaide make sure to come at this time of the year for an unforgettable time when Adelaide is at its brightest.
  • Lazy walks along white sandy beaches.
  • Conservation parks such as Cleland and Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary, Cleland is a good stop on the way down from Mt. Lofty. The park offers gas BBQ facilities (Entry fees apply).
  • See the Rundle Lantern light display (Cnr Rundle St and Pultney St). From dusk to midnight every night with 750 light panels.

Museums and Galleries

Adelaide from the Torrens
  • Migration Museum is on Kintore Avenue, Adelaide (behind the State Library). [15] Open everyday 10AM-5PM, except Good Friday and Christmas Day.
  • Art Gallery of South Australia is on North Terrace, Adelaide (half way between Kintore Avenue and Frome Road in between the South Australian Museum and the University of Adelaide), +61 8 82077000, [16]. Open everyday 10AM-5PM, except Christmas Day.
  • South Australian Museum is on North Terrace, Adelaide (next to the Art Gallery of South Australia). [17] Open everyday 10AM to 5PM, except Good Friday and Christmas Day.
  • Port Adelaide Lighthouse
  • Port Adelaide SA Train Museum
  • Glenelg Museum & historic tram
  • Gawler Museum, via Gawler train line
  • The South Australian Maritime Museum is located at 126 Lipson Street, Port Adelaide. Contact telephone number: +61 8 82076255. Adult: $8.50 Concession: $6.50 Child: $3.50 Family: $22 (2 adults & up to 5 children)
  • The National Motor Museum is in Birdwood, less than an hour’s drive from the city centre. [18]
  • The National Wine Centre in the city centre [19]
  • Adelaide Central Market, a vibrant hub of fresh food delights and one of the world’s largest undercover markets. [20]

National parks

A Koala at Cleland Conservation Park
  • Belair National Park is a national park of 835 ha, located 11KM south of Adelaide City. Due to its history as a “Recreation Park” it has many good trails for bushwalking, as well as tennis courts and grassy areas available for hire, and a good adventure playground for children. Old Government House, the colony’s first official Vice-regal summer residence, is located within the park. [21] A vehicle entry fee applies to cars entering the park, or else its western parts can be accessed from the Belair line train, a 35 minute journey from Adelaide city. The park gates are open daily from 8AM to sunset, everyday except Christmas Day.
  • Cleland Conservation Park [22] is a large National Park of 992ha, located 20 minutes from Adelaide City. Although it lacks the picnic and sports facilities of Belair, Cleland offers greater opportunities for tourists to get up close and personal with Australian native fauna. Visitors can feed and wander at their leisure among kangaroos, wallabies, Emus and waterfowl. Displays of Dingoes, reptiles, Tasmanian Devils, Wombats, Echidnas and Koalas allow easy viewing access, or stroll through the aviaries. Visitors also have the rare opportunity to be photographed holding a Koala, under supervision from Parks and Wildlife Officers. There is also an Aboriginal cultural tour.
  • Morialta Conservation Park [23] is located 10 km north-east of the CBD, where the suburbs meet the Adelaide hills. It covers 533 ha, and contains numerous walking trails of various levels of difficulty, including trails that pass by three major waterfalls, and provide panoramic views over Adelaide itself. There is also a popular rock climbing area within the park. Note that the waterfalls only flow in the winter months, and are usually completely dry by Christmas.
  • Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary [24] is a privately run wildlife sanctuary, strongly fenced off from the outside, allowing it to remain completely free of feral plants and animals, especially cats. Warrawong offers unguided day, and guided day and night tours for tourists. As well as allowing visitors to get up close and personal with well known animals like the Kangaroo, Warrawong also offers a unique opportunity to see a number of very rare or less well known native Australian animals, such as the Platypus, Tree Kangaroo, Quoll, Bettong, Potoroo, Pademelon, Bandicoot, Bilby and Possums.


  • Go to the free Haigh’s Chocolate factory tour. Established in 1915, Haigh’s is one of the best chocolates in Australia. Located just 5 minutes from the CBD, the factory tour will give you a glimpse on how this fine chocolate is made and free samples! Tours run Monday to Saturday at 11:00AM, 1:00PM and 2:00PM, bookings essential.
  • Check out the wineries, beaches, whale watching, fairy penguins and other attractions south of the city on the Fleurieu peninsula.
Inside the Bicentennial Conservatory at the Botanic Gardens
  • The Adelaide Casino on North Terrace, adjoining the Festival and Convention centres. Adelaide Casino is South Australia’s only licensed Casino, and offers not just great gaming, but also three restaurants, and four bars, including the LOCO nightclub and Grandstand sports bar. Valet parking is also available.
  • The Adelaide Botanic Gardens are free to enter and are a worthwhile visit; the gardens are quiet and relaxing even though they’re in the heart of the city. They contain many large grassed areas ideal for relaxing, and just outside the gardens are the city parklands where ball games and picnics can be held. There is a cafe in the gardens and a conservatory.
  • The Bicentennial Conservatory is not free, but it is a worthwhile visit, simulating a tropical rainforest with mist falling from the roof. Be warned, it is warm and humid inside.
  • West Beach is ideal for family walks and swimming – it is close to both Glenelg and Henley Beach. At Henley Beach there is Henley square which hosts some 15 restaurants – an excellent dining venue. Beaches south of and including Semaphore are all excellent white sand beaches, some with public toilets and cold water showers. If you want to ‘wet a line’ there are jetties at (suburban beaches, from north to south) Grange, Semaphore, Henley Beach, Glenelg, Brighton and Port Noarlunga.
  • During the summer months get down to the Adelaide Oval for a cricket match. Australia plays host to a couple of touring nations each summer and they will play a few matches at this beautiful ground which is just minutes from the city centre. Tickets for internationals tend to be snapped up quickly, but domestic matches (South Australia play their home matches in Adelaide) are frequent and equally exciting.
  • The local sport is Australian Rules Football. Home games for the local teams the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power are played at AAMI Stadium in West Lakes, usually referred to by its old name of “Football Park” or “Footy Park”. Getting tickets shouldn’t be a problem – check out the AFL website [25] for more details.
  • Alternatively, the local footy league, the SANFL [26], has 4 games per weekend. Norwood Oval, home of the Redlegs [27], is situated on the Parade in Norwood which is home to a variety of restaurant, café and pub options for after the game.
  • Soccer is increasingly popular in Australia, although certainly not yet at the level of Aussie Rules or (in other states) rugby league. The local team in the national A-League is Adelaide United, who play home games at Hindmarsh Stadium.
  • Take a tour of the Coopers Brewery [28], the only remaining large family owned brewery in Australia, well known around the world for their bottle conditioned ales. Founded by Thomas Cooper in 1862, the Brewery is currently run fifth generation Tim and Glenn Cooper. All proceeds from the tours go to charity.
  • Go to Adelaide events – South Australia has been known as the ‘festival state’. Major events include the Tour Down Under [29] international cycling race in January, the biannual Adelaide Festival of Arts [30], the annual Adelaide Fringe [31], annual WOMADelaide [32] and the Clipsal 500 V8 race [33].


  • Rundle Mall [34], is a pedestrian-only shopping strip, with many arcades and side streets coming off it. Runs parallel to North Terrace. Over 800 shops.
  • The Central Market [35] offers fresh produce and a range of goods, with cheap multi-storey parking. Closed Mondays and Sundays. Located between Grote St and Gouger St, west of Victoria Square.
  • Chinatown, a pedestrian-only area (Moonta St) adjacent to Central Market.
  • The Tea Tree Plaza [36] complex (TTP for short) is a medium-sized shopping centre with over 250 shops. Tea Tree Plaza is the terminus of the Adelaide O’Bahn dedicated busway which begins in the city centre at Hackney Road. It is easy to get there from the city centre; most of the buses that stop on the Grenfell Street stops travel to the TTP interchange via the O’Bahn busway. It is easy to see from a distance as it has the large antenna and supporting pyramid type structure, well-known to the locals, on the roof of the Myer department store. Ample parking is available around, on top of, and underneath the complex. More information is at [37]. The much smaller Tea Tree Plus shopping centre is right next to Tea Tree Plaza.
  • Westfield Marion Shopping Centre [38] is Adelaide’s largest shopping centre with over 400 shops. There are buses direct from the city centre, timetables can be found at [39] More information on Marion Shopping Centre as well as how to get there can be found at their website.
  • Harbour Town [40] a mid sized mall currently undergoing an expansion, featuring outlet shopping, situated up against the western edge of the Adelaide Airport. Only a short bus ride from the Airport, and 30 minutes from the city centre.


Many restaurants in Adelaide allow “BYO”. You can bring one or more bottles of wine to the restaurant and the staff will pour it for you and add a service charge to the bill, typically between about $8 and $20. Often this will work out cheaper than buying wine at the restaurant. Check beforehand with the restaurant.


  • Gouger Street offers a wide range of tastes to suit many budgets in a variety of Asian, Italian and seafood restaurants as well as upmarket French, Argentinian and many other choices. From Friday to Sunday make sure to reserve a table to avoid disappointment. Gouger Street also incorporates Adelaide’s “Chinatown Arch” which fronts a large number of budget eating options. As well as The Central Market, which on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings are buzzing with produce traders, sights and smells.
  • Hutt Street offers a small variety of upmarket restaurants that please most tastes, and also has a wide variety of gourmet shops and supermarkets.
    • City East IGA the fine food store 116 Hutt St, +61 8 8223-1112– won best IGA Supermarket in SA for its amazing food range, including: Greek, Italian, Chinese and Indian
    • Kenji Modern Restaurant 242 Hutt St, +61 8 8232-0944– nominated as the best Japanese restaurant in Adelaide.
    • Alfonzo 202 Hutt Street– an Italian eatery and shop; a great place to enjoy breakfast and lunch any time of the day.
  • Rundle Street a large number of al fresco cafes and restaurants of varying budget and taste. It is the cultural hub of Adelaide and the equivalent of Melbourne’s Chapel Street.
  • Jasmin Indian Restaurant, 31 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide 5000, Australia, (08) 8223 7837, [41]. Thu-Sun 9AM-4PM (for breakfast & lunch); Fri & Sat 6PM-late (for dinner). $1-$19.  

North Adelaide

  • An eclectic mix of small restaurants and cafes make Melbourne Street an interesting place to eat.
    • Elephant walk 76 Melbourne St, +61 8 8267-2006– particularly interesting because it is a small, cosy cafe which is very dimly lit. Each booth is separated by straw screens so you can’t really see the other patrons. It opens at 8PM and if they’re full, you’ll have to wait outside for a table.
  • The variety of take-aways, pubs, cafes, bakeries and restaurants that line most of O’Connell Street means you won’t be wanting.


  • The Parade, Norwood has a long stretch of shopping and cosmopolitian dining. Buses from the CBD numbering 122-124 or a very short taxi ride.
  • Jetty Road / Mosley Square, Glenelg has a variety of restaurants and pubs at the end of a 30 minute tram journey.
  • Stuart Road, Dulwich features two cafes, a licensed restaurant and a very good bakery. Catch the 145 or 146 from North Terrace which heads along Fullarton Road and up Dulwich Avenue.
  • King William Road, Hyde Park is an upmarket strip of fashionable cafes, coffee shops and restaurants.
  • Vietnam on Addison Road just off Torrens Road, Pennington is the finest (fun-est) Vietnam dining there is. The “cold wrap” is a must-have when dining there. Make sure to reserve a table because they’re always full.


  • Raj on Taj King William Rd, +61 8 8271-7755– Good, underpriced Indian food. There are two Raj on Taj restaurants, one in Hyde Park and one nearby in Unley. The Hyde Park one is the better of the two.
  • Cafe de Vili 2-14 Manchester Street- Vili is an Adelaide producer of pastries, especially pies and pasties. This unpretentious eatery at their factory serves full meals in addition to pastries. Shift workers and night owls regularly eat there because it is open 24 hours, 7 days. It is a minor Adelaide icon.
  • Fasta Pasta is the McDonalds of pasta; although found in other states its popularity in South Australia is due to the chain having started in Adelaide.


  • Regent Thai 165 O’Connell St, +61 8 8239-0927- Excellent and consistent standard Thai menu. The friendly proprietor Chang was a refugee from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Try the oysters in coriander sauce, the red curry chicken, or ask for a whole fish steamed with ginger and shallots. Its sister restaurant at Glenelg, Phuket, is worth checking out as well. Mains $13-$18.
  • Nu Thai 117 Gouger St, +61 8 8410-2288- Slightly more expensive than Regent, with a more adventurous menu. They have a huge blackboard inside with a long list of specials which change regularly. Arguably the best Asian restaurant on Gouger St.
  • Amalfi 29 Frome St, +61 8 8223-1948- This little Italian place located just off Rundle St has a loyal following and is usually jam packed. It has an inventive range of pizzas and pastas, with quality a cut above the other Italian cafes filling Rundle St.
  • Jasmin 31 Hindmarsh Square, +61 8 8223-7837- Arguably Adelaide’s best Indian restaurant. Beautifully decorated, with classical music playing and impeccable service. The very hot curries (vindaloo and tindaloo) are especially good. You might also consider trying the mixed entree or orange sponge cake.
  • Chefs Of Tandoori 292 Unley Rd, +61 8 8373-5055- As the name suggest, founded by Indian chefs who deserted the Tandoori Oven across the road. Good Indian food at a very reasonable price.
  • Fellini 102 O’Connell St, +61 8 8239-2235- This large North Adelaide cafe is packed to the rafters every weekend. The menu is Italian-based pasta, pizza and so on, but what keeps the punters coming back is the large size of the menu and inventiveness of the dishes.
  • North – This is the signature restaurant of the Adelaide Casino, and offers exclusive a la carte cuisine, influenced by European and Japanese flavours. On the corner of North Terrace and Station Road.
  • Hotaru Japanese Restaurant 162 Gouger St, +61 8 8410-2838 – A cosy Japanese restaurant with wonderful food, particularly the fresh sashimi, various sushi rolls and the grilled eggplant. The home-made sesame ice cream and green tea ice cream are just wonderful. Hotaru is located off the main Gouger St area.


  • Enoteca [42] 262 Carrington St, +61 8 8227-0766 – This restaurant is attached to Adelaide’s Italian Club, so you would expect top quality Italian food and that’s exactly what you will get, along with an extensive selection of local and Italian wines. The cuisine here ranks with the best Italian food in Adelaide.
  • The Manse [43] 142 Tynte St, +61 8 8267-4636 – Small, peaceful French contemporary restaurant tucked in a quiet corner of North Adelaide.
  • Magill Estate Restaurant [44] 78 Penfold Rd, +61 8 8301-5551 – While the food here is good, the real stars are the view and the wine list. This restaurant is owned by Penfolds, probably Australia’s best-known premium red wine makers, and overlooks the vineyards on their Magill property, not far from the city center. The grapes grown on this estate are used to make the Magill Estate label single vineyard Shiraz. The wine list allows you to order back vintages of the Penfolds (and other) wines going back 20 or more years.
  • Windy Point Restaurant [45] Windy Point Lookout, Belair Rd – +61 8 8278-8255- A restaurant with a nice ambience, excellent service and good food prepared in a unique way, complete with a nice view of the city skyline. For those who wish to have a less formal setting, the adjacent cafe also offers a good selection. Usually only open for dinner from 6PM onwards, though lunches are possible with prior arrangements.
  • Alphütte [46] 242 Pulteney St, +61 8 8223-4717 – A small Swiss restaurant tucked at the edge of the city centre, well known among locals for its steak.
  • Auge [47] 22 Grote St, +61 8 8410-9332 – A small Italian/Modern Australian fusion restaurant tucked in a corner opposite Central Market.
  • Red Ochre [48] War Memorial Drive, North Adelaide, +61 8 8211-8555 – A nice modern Australian restaurant with a nice ambience situated on the River Torrens, with a good view of the city skyline.
  • Shiki Restaurant [49] Hyatt Regency Adelaide, North Terrace, +61 8 8231-2382 – A Japanese restaurant with a nice atmosphere in one of Adelaide’s premier hotels. Mainly known for it’s teppanyaki but also serves other Japanese dishes like sushi, sashimi and tempura.


There are pubs and bars dotted all around the CBD, but a few districts are worth singling out. Rundle St and its neighbouring area (also known simply as “The East End”) have a number of popular pubs. Hindley St used to be notorious as the seedy home of Adelaide’s strip clubs and bikie bars, but it and its surrounds (“The West End”) have undergone a renaissance. The eastern end of Hindley St is more mainstream, whereas the western end (West of Morphett St) has a few trendier and more alternative venues. The seedy places are still there, but so too is a university campus and a number of trendy bars and clubs. Also important are Gouger St (still mostly restaurants, but an increasing number of bars and pubs) and O’Connell St, home to a few of North Adelaide’s popular pubs.

Smoking in pubs and clubs is banned under South Australian law. Many drinking establishments have outdoor areas where smoking is permitted.


  • Grandstand, Adelaide Casino, North Terrace Adelaide, +61 8 8212-2811. Sun-Thurs 10AM-late, Fri-Sat 11AM-5:30AM. Situated on the first floor of Adelaide Casino, Grandstand is Adelaide’s premier venue for watching all live sporting events. Featuring several TV screens showing all the action from Fox Sports, Setanta and Main Event, Grandstand also has full Keno and TAB facilities. An excellent bar menu is also available, as are regular great drink promotions.
  • Crown & Anchor, 196 Grenfell St Adelaide, +61 8 8223-3212. M-We 11AM-3AM, Thu-Sat 11AM-4AM. Situated just off Rundle St, this Adelaide institution is often referred to as “The Cranker” – or, less kindly, the “Crowd of Wankers” – and attracts those of an alternative bent. Goths, metalheads, punks and hippies all mingle in this multi-roomed venue, sipping beer. But don’t worry, piercings and tattoos aren’t essential to have a good time. Music playing could be just about anything.
  • Worldsend, 208 Hindley St, Adelaide, +61 8 8231-9137. M-Fr 11AM-late, Sat 4PM-late, Su closed. Serves food all day. This lively pub features a beer garden and a solid restaurant. The crowd is generally early to mid twenties, many from the nearby Hindley St campus of the University of South Australia. While it definitely has a strong pub feel, the music is more like a bar, with live jazz and funk, house and drum’n’bass (rather than rock) the order of the day.
  • The Exeter, 246 Rundle St, Adelaide, +61 8 8223-2623. This friendly old-school pub is much frequented by students from nearby Adelaide University and TAFE. At night, it has an alternative feel drawing crowds from all areas. Two back rooms contain a great little restaurant (the curry nights on Wednesday and Thursday are popular) and a small music venue, mostly showcasing live alternative bands. M-Su 11AM-late.
  • The Archer, 60 O’Connell St, North, +61 8 8361-9300. The pub of choice for the younger crowd in North Adelaide, with a modern, hip feel and a large range of beers on tap. Be aware that it has to close earlier than most places (usually midnight) due to residential noise restrictions.
  • The Cumberland Arms, 205 Waymouth St, Adelaide, +61 8 8231-3577. M 9AM-12AM, Tu 9AM-1AM, W-Th 9AM-3AM, F-Sa 6PM-4AM, Sun 6PM-2AM. Located in a strip of bars and clubs along the southern end of Light Square (adjacent to Hindley St), the Cumberland was bought out and refurbished some years ago. Nowadays it’s a cozy spot which does a good job of being all things to all people. The front bar areas conceal a dancefloor within, where a DJ is invariably playing house, and an outdoor area around the side. The popularity of “The Cumby” is cyclic, but if it’s not happening, one of the adjacent places will be.
  • The Grace Emily, 232 Waymouth St, Adelaide, +61 8 8231-5500, [50] – Opposite “The Cumby” (above), the Grace has plenty of trinkets behind and around the bar to keep one’s eyeballs busy whilst nursing a Coopers or bloody mary. Local, interstate and even overseas bands play most nights. Every Monday night Billy Bob’s BBQ Jam sees a variety of local bands strut their stuff to impress the crowd with 3 or 4 songs (though perhaps more by popular demand) whilst a sausage sizzle out the beer garden feeds the hordes – a highlight of an otherwise quiet evening in Adelaide.
  • The Austral, Rundle St., [51]. On the main street for shopping and nightlife in Adelaide, which is really the same long street as Hindley Street but with a different name either side of King William Road, and the pedestrian only Rundle Mall in the middle. The Austral is the unofficial backpackers pub of choice.
  • Coopers Alehouse, 316 Pulteney St., [52] also known by the original name still on the front facade The Earl of Aberdeen, is the only pub to hold the complete range of Coopers Beers on tap, including the Vintage Ale. Also serves good food, including pizzas, in the attached Arnou Woodfired at the Earl restaurant. Ten minute walk from the Rundle St.-Pulteney St. intersection.
  • The Stag, 299 Rundle St. (Corner of Rundle and East Tce.), [53] More up market establishment, with good views of the parklands from the al fresco seating, good range of drinks and weekly live music. The second floor balcony literally overlooked the old Formula 1 street circuit and was always crammed with race fans. With the shortened Clipsal 500 course this is no longer possible, but still a good place to go after the days races.


  • Zhivago 155 Waymouth Street- This West End bar attracts a friendly, relaxed, mid-twenties crowd.
  • First 128 Rundle Mall, +61 8 8223-4044- Situated in Richmond Hotel, this is the only nightspot on Rundle Mall. First started life as a chilled out cocktail bar, but rapidly became popular as an after-work spot on Fridays, and could now also be filed under “clubs”. On weekends they are packed out and play commercial house, but on weeknights it reverts to the original cocktail bar atmosphere.
  • Fumo Blu 270 Rundle St, +61 8 8232-2533- Below ground cocktail lounge in the heart of Rundle St.
  • Boho, [54] 27 Unley Road, +61 8 8271-5544- A burlesque themed bar, with live music and burlesque and period performances, located a 5 minute drive, bus or Tram ride South of the CBD.
  • Supermild 182 Hindley St, +61 8 8212-9699- Situated underground (look for steps leading down off Hindley Street West), this is a dimly-lit cocktail bar tending to have DJs playing eclectic electronica.
  • Rocket Bar 142 Hindley Street [55] – Inconspicuously located off Hindley Street (it’s a door with a sign above it), Rocket Bar is a live venue that hosts international/interstate and local alternative indie acts. Also home to indie/alternative Modular nights and ABRACADABRA on Fridays. Open every weekend until late.


  • HQ, [56] 1 North Tce, +61 8 7221-1245- Previously known as “Heaven” and “Heaven II”, this complex at the far end of the West End has the best sound system and most floor space to be found anywhere in the city. It is easily Adelaide’s largest club. The big nights are Saturday, where you’ll hear mostly commercial house, with a little trance, and Wednesday, which is a retro night. Fridays can also be big, depending on what’s on; check the website.
  • Mars Bar 120 Gouger Street, +61 8 8231-9639- Adelaide’s only gay club. Straight people are also welcome.
  • Jive, 181 Hindley St, Adelaide, [57]. 300 capacity mainly live venue that hosts local and interstate rock/alternative/indie acts. Also home to indie/alternative dance club Gosh! on Saturdays after the bands. Open every weekend and sometimes during the week too.  



There is a choice of backpacker accommodation around the central bus station.

  • Adelaide Travellers Inn, 220 Hutt Street, Adelaide, SA, +61 8 8224-0753 email[58]. Nomads Mad card Members receive $2 off per night or their 7th night FREE.
  • Adelaide Central YHA, 135 Waymouth Street, +61 8 8414-3010 (fax +61 8 8414 3015, email, [59]. $25.50 per bed per night in a dorm room, $75 for a private double room and $90 for double en suite. YHA/Hostelling International members receive a 10% discount.
  • My Place Adelaide, [60] 257 Waymouth Street, +1 800 221 529, very clean, good social vibe and free breakfast & free bus to Glenelg beach
  • The Austral, 205 Rundle Street, +61 8 8223-4660, [61]. The Austral is a pub which provides accommodation upstairs from the bar area. Rooms are clean and fairly quiet despite the bar downstairs, although the mattresses aren’t great quality. Bathrooms are shared. Close to Adelaide’s centre. $35 per night single and $55 per night double.
  • Plaza Hotel, 85 Hindley Street, +61 8 8231-6371 (fax +61 8 8231 2055, email [62]. Single rooms $66 per night, double rooms $72 per night.
  • Cannon Street Backpackers Across the Flinders Street Bus Terminal. Starting from $21 with in house bar. Lots of Irish and English backpackers that like to party hard, so place tends to be on a bit noisy.
  • Blue Galah, Rundle St CBD, +61 8 8231-9295 (fax +61 8 8231 9598, email [63]. $24 per night in a dorm room, $70 per night for a private single/twin/double room, weekly dorm rates are also available.
  • Hostel 109, 109 Carrington Street, +61 8 8223-1771, [64]. Small, quiet, modern, secure & centrally located. Very clean. Free Internet Access.


  • Mantra on Frome, Adelaide, +61 8 8223-9000(toll free: 1300-987-604, , fax: +61 8 8223-9014), [65]. 88 Frome Street, Adelaide SA 5000. 4 star apartment hotel. 72 studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments, most with private balconies, fully-equipped kitchens and laundry facilities. All apartments feature living and dining areas with cable television and in-house movies.  
  • Mantra Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide, +61 8 8412-3333(toll free: 1300-987-604, , fax: +61 8 8412-3344), [66]. 55-67 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide SA 5000. Mantra Hindmarsh Square is only a short stroll from the Rundle Mall shopping and Rundle Street dining precinct and minutes away from the Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide Casino, Festival and Entertainment Centres. Guests have a choice of 179 studios, one and two bedroom air-conditioned suites which have kitchenette, bathroom and laundry facilities. Some suites also offer a private balcony with views across Adelaide city. 
  • BreakFree on Hindley, Adelaide, +61 8 8217-2500(toll free: 1300-987-604, , fax: +61 8 8217-2519), [67]. 255 Hindley Street, Adelaide SA 5000. BreakFree on Hindley offers business and leisure travelers 142 self-contained studio and two bedroom apartments situated in Adelaide’s contemporary West End. Guests will enjoy comfortable accommodation in well-appointed spacious apartments which include modern amenities and a range of premier guest facilities. 
  • BreakFree Directors Studios, Adelaide, +61 8 8213-2500(toll free: 1300-987-604, , fax: +61 8 8213-2519), [68]. 259 Gouger Street, Adelaide SA 5000. BreakFree Directors Studios is a boutique hotel situated in the heart of Adelaide City. Located within proximity to the thriving central business district and major Adelaide city attractions. 
  • Golden Chain Motels, [69]. has many locations in Adelaide serving quality accommodation at affordable prices. View a Map of Adelaide [70]  
  • Adelaide City Park Motel, +61 8 8223-1444(, fax: +61 8 8223-1133), [71]. 471 Pulteney Street. Tel: 800 231 444,. Double rooms from $88 per night. 
  • Holiday Inn Adelaide, +61 8 8231-5552(, fax: +61 8 8237-3800), [72]. 65 Hindley Street. Double rooms $150 per night. 
  • Quest on King William, +61 8 8217-5000(, fax: +61 8 8217-5050), [73]. 82 King William Street. These serviced apartments are available for short-term or long term rental. One bedroom apartments from $145 a night short-term or $135 per night for long-term rentals. 
  • Quest Mansions, +61 8 8232-0033(, fax: +61 8 8223-4559), [74]. 21 Pulteney Street. These serviced apartments are available for short-term or long term rental. Studio apartments $138 a night short-term and $111 a night long-term. One bedroom apartments from $196 a night short-term or $158 per night for long-term rentals. 
  • Esplanade Apartments, (), [75]. Absolute Beachfront 80 Seaview Road West Beach. +61 8 83530443, fax +61 88 3564478),. Apartments one bedroom from $75 per night and two bedroom from $90 per night. 
  • Frogmore Apartments 13 Military Road West Beach (close to beach with excellent Mt Lofty Range views). +61 8 83533874,. Apartments one bedroom from $75 per night and two bedroom from $90 per night, three bedrooms from $110 per night.
  • Rydges South Park Adelaide, 1 South Terrace 1300 857 922 – The hotel is situated next to the southern parklands with views of the Adelaide Hills and features 97 rooms with 9 spa suites.


  • Hilton Adelaide, 233 Victoria Square, +61 8 8217-2000(, fax: +61 8 8217 2001), [76]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Deluxe king sized rooms from $250/night.  
  • Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury, 2 Flinders Street, +61 8 8112-0000(, fax: +61 8 8112 0199), [77]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. Located in the former Treasury building and consisting of 80 one & two bedroom apartments & studio rooms. The hotel overlooks Victoria Square and is only minutes to Rundle Mall and Adelaide’s Central Markets.Studio rooms from $210/night.  
  • Rendezvous Allegra, 55 Waymouth St, +61 8 8115-8888(, fax: +61 8 8115 8800), [78]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM.  
  • Stamford Plaza Adelaide, 150 North Terrace, +61 8 8461-1111(, fax: +61 8 8231 7572), [79]. Queen sized rooms from $225/night.  

Stay safe

Salisbury east and Para Hills are areas known for rock throwing incidents involving buses. These include routes 205, 206, 560, 225, 226, T500, 229. However these events are rare and the suburbs are quite a far distance north of the city out in the suburbs and travellers are unlikely to venture there.

In the past few months of early 2009 there have been many violent incidents and social disturbances in the Northern suburb of Davoren Park [80] [81]. It would be inadvisible to travel alone at night through this and/or surrounding suburbs.

In Adelaide, car theft and break ins are a nuisance. Do not leave valuables in view at any time even for a few minutes whilst leaving the vehicle unattended.

Many of the suburban railway stations are rundown and poorly maintained, with poor lighting and graffiti ridden bus stop style shelters. If catching a train at a suburban station, it is best to arrive at the station within 1 – 2 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. The trains are fairly reliable in comparison to Sydney and Melbourne. There are security guards on all trains after 7PM with many bus connections available. Exercise personal safety at Adelaide, Woodville and Noarlunga stations (and Gawler, Noarlunga lines[82]).

Adelaide is no more dangerous than any other similar sized Australian city to walk around. If you don’t go looking for trouble, you usually will not find it. Police actively patrol the vicinities of Rundle Mall and Gouger/Hindley St, the latter being where many of the city’s nightclubs and bars are located.

Taxi ranks are located by the Adelaide Casino, North Terrace, outside the Hilton on Victoria Square, and the Western end of Rundle St where it intersects with Pulteney St. outside of Hungry Jacks.

The City Parklands areas on all sides (though most particularly off West Terrace) are to be avoided at all times after dusk. These areas are isolated and have little to no lighting at all, making them frequent locations for assaults. There are often homeless and intoxicated groups there who may cause trouble with passers-by as well.


There is extensive free Wi-Fi access (port 80 only) in the CBD and the airport provided by Internode [83]. View coverage here: [84]

Get out


  • Go to the wine regions of Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley.
  • Explore the natural environment of Kangaroo Island.
  • Head North to explore the natural beauty and frontier history of the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound
  • Picturesque Victor Harbor, just an hour or so drive south of Adelaide. Granite Island is one of the few places you can see Fairy Penguins in their natural habitat. Visit the nearby surf beaches in Pt Elliot, Middletown and Goolwa.
  • The stunning Flinders Ranges begin just one and a half hours north of Adelaide.
  • Whispering wall at the Barossa Reservoir.
  • The Yorke Peninsula is a popular holiday destination for Adelaidians, and less touristy than Victor Harbor, with towns dotted along the coast and the rugged Innes National Park at the foot of the peninsula.

Further away

  • Travel the 1500km to Alice Springs ! You have already travelled several thousand kilometres to get to Australia, so another 1500km wont hurt! Main stops on the way are Port Augusta and Coober Pedy. Also, eventually, you will reach the turn off to Uluru.
  • Go on a tour to Melbourne which moves along the coast. These tours usually will pass through the Coorong National Park, followed by the Limestone Coast and finally the Great Ocean Road before arriving in Melbourne. Some also include an Aboriginal bush tour as part of the package.
  • Take a trip over to the Eyre Peninsula and see the historic town of Port Lincoln where you can see the massive tuna farms as well as going diving with Great White Sharks (in a cage) or swim with the dolphins and the seals.

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• Monday, October 11th, 2010

Across Australia by train

This article is an itinerary .

The Ghan arriving in Darwin

Australia is crossed by two great railway journeys, The Ghan, which crosses north to south straight through the heart of Australia, from Darwin to Adelaide and the Indian Pacific which crosses east to west, from Sydney to Perth.



The Ghan is named after the Afghan camel trains that used to service the Outback, construction on the original Ghan from Adelaide started in 1878, with Oodnadatta reached in 1891 and, after a thirty-year break, Alice Springs in 1926. A separate but unconnected track from Darwin to Katherine in the north was also completed in the same year.

Unfortunately, the original Ghan was twisty, narrow-gauge and built straight through many valleys prone to flash floods that washed away tracks and bridges. A decision was thus made rebuild nearly all of the line in standard gauge, over 100 km to the west. The new line to Alice Springs opened in 1980, and the remaining 1420-km section across the continent to Darwin opened in 2004.

The trains

This isn’t a high speed transcontinental railway. This is a laid-back kind of train that knows how to take its time and enjoy the scenery. The trains are privately run by Great Southern Railways.


The Ghan

Any way you look at it, the Ghan and the Indian Pacific are expensive. The standard “Red Service” Daynighter reclining seat is $716 from Darwin to Adelaide, although the price is cut in half if you book a prepaid, non-refundable, non-changeable “Rail Saver” fare or use a child, backpacker or YHA fare. A “Red Service” twin share sleeper cabin is $1312/800 standard/concession per person, with no Rail Saver available. Don’t expect luxury: the trains used are refurbished 1970s-vintage American models.

If you fork out $1973/1357, you can upgrade to “Gold Service”, which has single cabins (shared shower), twin cabins (shower ensuite) and includes all meals in the dedicated restaurant car. Add another $1000 on top, and you can get a double-sized “Platinum Service” cabin.

If you have a car in Australia, the value proposition can improve slightly, if you take your car with you. On the premium fare there are often deals available to take a car for $99 extra, which you can the offset against the price of renting a car at your destination, or if you drive one way, the prospect of the 3000km drive home.

You can also leverage some value out of taken stops at the destinations along the way, with Alice Springs being the perfect stopping point on the Ghan, and Broken Hill and Adelaide both being good options on the Indian Pacific. There aren’t too many other options, though, with small towns, infrequent service and inconvenient arrival times making the other towns a hassle to stop at.

Get in

Darwin can be reached by plane from all major Australian cities and a few international destinations like Singapore, but does not have any other train services.

Sydney, Perth and Adelaide are well-connected by air, each with services to all other Australian capital cities and international destinations. There are public train services up and down the east coast connecting through to Sydney. There is a public train once a week to Broken Hill, which you can catch from Sydney, and then join the Indian Pacific there. This trip costs considerably less than the privately run Indian Pacific on the same route.


The Ghan

This itinerary assumes you start from Darwin and head south, but obviously it’s also possible in the opposite direction.

From Darwin(0 km), there is a departure every Saturday (9 AM) throughout the year, and an additional service on Wednesdays (10 AM) between May and October. The three-day, two-night journey takes around 48 hours from end to end.

The station is a fair way from central Darwin, about 20 minutes drive. The railway’s primary purpose is freight, and the line goes straight to the port at East Arm, without passing through any built-up areas. Dedicated buses connect between the Darwin Transit Centre in Mitchell St and the rail station for an additional fee. Taxi’s are possible, but expensive. There is no scheduled bus.

From Adelaide(2979 km), departures are on Sunday 12:20 noon throughout the year and Wednesday at the same time between May and October.

Katherine (312 km)

The Ghan stops here for around five hours, with an optional guided “Whistle Stop Tour” available.

The old Ghan railway from Darwin to Katherine stopped in central Katherine, and is now a tourist attraction. You can walk the old high level railway bridge across the Katherine river following the old alignment. However, is around 10km from the old station to the new one, so if you want to see Katherine, the tour may be your best option.

Tennant Creek (945 km)

Passed through in the middle of the night in both directions, stops only on request.

Alice Springs (1420 km)

Alice Springs is the former northern terminus of the Ghan and the largest town by far en route. The train stops here for around four hours, long enough for a quick peek around town. The station is on the edge of downtown, a couple of blocks walk to the Todd mall. Many people opt to break their journey here for a few days and visit Uluru, about 400 km away, but there is plenty to do for a few days in Alice and surrounds even if you don’t venture to the Rock. Alice Springs has all the services to make it possible.


Is a roadhouse in the desert.

Chandler and Marla

Chandler is a tiny settlements where the the Ghan intersects the Stuart Highway. Marla is a purpose built highway service centre with nothing else there except the highway, train line and the station. The highlight of any visit there is to see the Ghan when it passes through, and the desert stretching off into the distance, if you are actually on the Ghan looking at the desert stretching off into the distance, best to stay on board.

If you do decide to get off, the motel, service station, and associated facilities are just across the road from the station.

Coober Pedy (Manguri)

By prior arrangement only, the Ghan can stop at Manguri, 42km away from the town of Coober Pedy. You musthave prearranged a pickup from here, since the location is very remote.


At the former mining town of Tarcoola, the Ghan merges with the Indian Pacificline coming in from Perth to the west.


Markets itself as a “seriously outback town”. Small town with just a pub. The train can stop here with prior arrangement, and the station is just across the road from the town. The Kingoonya Waterhole Hotel [1] is just a couple of minutes walk from the station and accommodation is available.


You can catch the train at Pimba with prior arrangement. Woomera is just 6 kms away from the station

Port Augusta

Railway buffs may wish to get off here and ride the Pichi Richi Railway [2] 78 km to Quorn, running along the original Ghan track and using original Ghan equipment. Departures are limited, especially outside the winter season.

Port Pirie

The station is in the suburbs, around 5km from the town centre. The old station in the centre of the town is closed.

Adelaide (2979 km)

The end of the line — unless you switch onto the Indian Pacific and continue onward to Perth, Sydney or Broken Hill.

The Indian Pacific



Broken Hill


Port Augusta



Stay safe

Get out

On a connecting train

The Overland train (which is also a Great Southern Railways private train) also runs to Melbourne, although that 10 hour journey lacks some of the spirit of the Indian Pacific or the Ghan.

There are no interstate public trains that run into Adelaide.

And see what you missed

Australia’s pioneers had a grand vision for the railways, to cover a continent, and there are many places where this grand history can be seen. If you are catching the train one way, and travelling the other way, you can catch up with some of the interesting railway history you may have missed.

The town of Peterborough is well worth a stop – the town was built on crossroads of the Australian railways. In Indian Pacific stops there at night, and doesn’t do the town justice.

The Oodnadatta Track basically follows the original alignment of the Ghan before it was moved. And the Oodnadatta station is still there, but hasn’t seen a train for a while.

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• Monday, October 11th, 2010


King's College in Old Aberdeen

Aberdeen (Scottish Gaelic: Obar Dheathain) is Scotland ‘s third largest city, with a population of about 202,000. Aberdeen is the county town of Aberdeenshire, and the chief seaport in the north-east of Scotland.

Aberdeen is commonly referred to variously as “the Granite City”, or the “Silver City” on account of the grey, occasionally sparkling building stone used in older buildings in the city; and the “Flower of Scotland”, Aberdeen long having been famous for outstanding parks, gardens and floral displays. These days, Aberdeen also boasts the title of Oil Capital of Europe thanks to the supply of crude oil in the North Sea, and stands on a bay of the North Sea, between the mouths of the rivers Don and Dee.


Aberdeen is a relatively small city – quite a bit smaller than Glasgow or Edinburgh. It has a harbour and pleasant beach. It has a distinct identity from other Scottish cities, especially the two largest in the Central Belt. It has some of the oldest university buildings in Europe (King’s College was founded in 1495), and its citizens were fond of boasting in centuries gone by that Aberdeen had as many universities (Marischal and King’s) as all of England (Oxford and Cambridge). After the discovery of oil in the North Sea, the city expanded greatly and several new suburbs were formed. The city has seen continued growth ever since, and a range of new developments are planned over the next few years. The district of Bridge of Don has become, in just thirty years, one of the largest suburbs in Europe, and is one of many areas of the city which retain the feel of a village in parts. Perhaps the best examples of this are the line of suburbs stretching towards Royal Deeside, including Cults and Peterculter.


Although English is spoken, in many parts of Scotland accents and local dialects can seem confusing to visitors, even native English speakers.

The local Aberdeen dialect is Doric, which is very different from what is heard in other parts of Scotland. Upon first hearing it, the distinctive accent may seem utterly impenetrable, even to other Scots. It has its origins in the farming communities nearby and is not spoken as widely as it used to be. However, there is still a good chance you will encounter the dialect on your travels, so here are a few commonly used words with translations:

  • “Fit like?”- A greeting, essentially, “How are you doing?”.
  • “Nae bad yersel?”- A reply, essentially, “Not bad, how about you?”.
  • “Fit?”- “What?”.
  • “Fa?”- “Who?”.
  • “Far?”- “Where?”.
  • “Fan?”- “When?”.
  • “Aye”- “Yes”.
  • “Na’”- “No” (usually, an nsound followed by a vowel constitutes “no”.
  • “Wee”- “Little”, though this famous Doric word has become common in other areas worldwide nowadays.
  • “Dinnae ken”- “Don’t know”.
  • “H’min”- “Excuse me good sir?”
  • “far aboot ye fae?” where are you from?
  • “ben a/eh hoose” – “Through the house/in the other room”
  • “gie” – “give”
  • “guy” – “very”
  • “Here, will ye trap ma mate?”- “Excuse me, will you kiss my friend?”

If you politelysuggest you don’t understand, almost all Doric speakers will be able to regulate their dialect and adopt more standard English to converse with you. It should be noted that only a small minority actually talk in broad Doric (which is almost unintelligible, even to most Scots), however the accent and dialect will influence the language of a good deal more local people to some degree or another. A good number will have no traces of it whatsoever in their speech, particularly in the middle and upper social classes.

In most of the north east, meals are named differently from other areas.First meal of the day- Breakfast. Second meal of the day- Dinner, sometimes pronounced “daenner” but however it is said, it is usually very easy to recognise.

Get in

By plane

Aberdeen-Dyce Airport is situated 7 miles from the city centre. The airport offers a wide range of domestic and short haul European international flights. Buses run from the airport to the city centre throughout the day. The nearest railway station is Dyce (which is now connected via an Airlink bus 06:45 – 19:00 Mon-Fri, £1.50 each way), and connects to stations in Aberdeen and Inverness. Taxis are available outside the terminal and will cost around £20 to Aberdeen City Centre.

Major hub destinations include London-Heathrow (10 daily), Paris-CDG (3 daily) and Amsterdam (3 daily). Domestic destinations include Birmingham, Norwich, London-Luton (2-3 daily), London-Gatwick (3 daily), Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle. Other routes heavily cater to the oil industry including Scatsta-Shetland (12 charter flights daily), Stavanger (10 daily), Oslo (6 weekly). Occasional longer distance holiday flights also operate on a seasonal basis.

The list of destinations can be found on the airport’s website [1]

By train

Aberdeen Station is located right in the middle of town, next to the Harbour and Bus Station, slightly down from Union Street, the main thoroughfare. Services come from the South via Perth and the North to Elgin, Inverness and similar places.

The three main operators serving Aberdeen are:

  • East Coast, [2]. Three direct trains a day serve the major east coast cities (Edinburgh, Newcastle, York and terminate in London (King’s Cross).)
  • ScotRail, [3]. Serves all the major Scottish hubs, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness. The Caledonian Sleeper to London (Euston) leaves every night except Saturdays at around 20.30.
  • CrossCountry, [4]. Serves a range of destinations on the Cross-Country route, including Carlisle, Manchester and Birmingham. Some services stretch all the way down to Penzance in South West England – the UK’s longest train journey.

By boat

Ferries operated by NorthLink [5] arrive at Aberdeen harbour from Lerwick and Kirkwall.

By car

Aberdeen lies halfway along the long A90 arterial road that hugs the eastern, North Sea coast of Scotland between Dundee and Peterhead. With relative ease this permits access by car from points across Britain.

From Aberdeen, the A96 runs roughly north-west over the Gordon Highlands to Elgin and Inverness.

It is also possible to rent a car in Aberdeen from well known companies such as Avis and Hertz and other local companies such as Logan Car Hire [6]

Get around

On Foot

Pedestrian Maps

There are quite a few of these located around the city centre, mainly in points of interest. They are very useful for navigating the rather random layout of the city centre and also give details of where to go to catch a particular bus.

Aberdeen walking directions [7] can be planned online with the [8] walking route planner.

By train

Aberdeen does not have a particularly good rail service to the local outlying areas, but it does exist (there’s talk of a Crossrail but that’s years off). The station is on Guild Street next to the bus station (just south of Union Street). The local services run to:

Dyce – On the north west of the city along the Inverness line. This is an option for travelling to the airport, but you have to catch a taxi (these are generally easily available but a bit pricey). Believe it or not, the cheap day return (£2.60) is slightly cheaper than catching the bus (£2.70 for a day pass). This is certainly a preferable way to travel in rush hour too as the journey time is 10 minutes as opposed to the hour+ it takes on the bus. There are plenty of trains, though the frequency is quite scattered. The station is located just off the main street.

Inverurie – The next stop up the line from Dyce. Trains are less frequent than to Dyce, but the service has benefitted recently from the addition of some extra journeys. The station is located a short walk from the town centre.

Portlethen – The first stop south on the Dundee/Glasgow/Edinburgh line. There are extremely few services stopping here outwith rush hour. The station is on the east of the town on the road to the old village. A walk from here to the main shopping area will take you around 10-15 minutes, there are buses that run every 20 minutes just outside the station if you need to use them.

Stonehaven – The next stop down from Portlethen. Trains are fairly frequent (at least once an hour). Buses to Stonehaven centre depart from the hotel across from the station, or you can walk. (takes 10-20 minutes depending on your speed)

By bus

Aberdeen has a fairly decent bus network, though it is expensive to use (there are no multi-operator tickets either). The city is served by 2 operators First [9] and Stagecoach [10]. On the whole, buses are modern and fairly comfortable with a few dinosaurs still doing the rounds. If you are connecting buses, it should be noted that you’ll probably have to change in the city centre as that’s where the majority of services run through/terminate.

First’s services are entirely within the city boundary, although they do serve the suburbs of Dyce, Cults & Culter and Kingswells. The network “branded as The Overground” is based on a colour coded system with all the main lines having a colour while the “less important” lines are left grey on the map, which is in the style of that of the London Underground. This makes it fairly easy to find your way around. Services begin around 5AM and end close to midnight with night services run at weekends (currently run at a flat fare of £2.20 single).

Fares are based on a fare-stage system and cost from 70p for a short journey to £1.60 for a longer one. Day passes are available for £3 (£2.70 after 9AM). Show a valid student ID for a discount on the day pass (£2).

First also run the popular (and rightly so) Park & Ride [11] (National Park and Ride Directory) from Kingswells (just off A944) and Bridge of Don (off A90). The Bridge of Don service runs from the Exhibition and Conference Centre, which is easy to spot on the main northbound road. Parking is free, and the service costs £1.80 (per person) for a return journey to anywhere along the route. Up to two under 16s go free when accompanied. Day passes are available for purchase if you are planning to change buses.

Stagecoach run the services to outside the city boundary. Locations closer to Aberdeen generally have more frequent services (for example, a 15 minute frequency to the suburb of Westhill) than those further out. In addition to this, they run 1 service wholly within the city boundary (the 59). For single fares, Stagecoach are generally a cheaper option within the city than First, but they lack the frequency and network of First. Fares are based on destination, however there is a day pass called the Explorer which, for £11, allows you unlimited use of the entire Stagecoach network in the area (as far out as Montrose or Peterhead for example).

By taxi

Taxis are widely available from a number of ranks dotted around the city centre. The main ranks are located on Back Wynd, Market Street and the railway station. There are more located further up Union Street, they’re easy enough to spot. Taxis can be difficult to come by at night due to a shortage of them (ranks are patrolled by marshals at night on special nights) and can be difficult to flag down on the street as many drivers do not give any indication if they’re available for hire and will not pick up groups of males. To call for a taxi, phone ComCab at 01224-35 35 35. Fares are high, but always by the meter price and regulated by the Aberdeen City Council and last revised in November 2008.

By bicycle

Due to the many narrow roads and inadequate lane provisions, this can be rather treacherous at times. Cycle lanes are appearing as are cycle “boxes” at traffic lights so the situation is getting better for those who cycle. It’s getting easier to park a cycle too, the council are beginning to provide loops for chaining bikes to within the city centre streets and within the municipal multi-storey car parks.

It is possible to cycle from Aberdeen city centre to Peterculter along the Old Deeside Railway line. The line begins just outside Duthie Park and passes through Garthdee, Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber before ending at Station Road. It is mostly paved with very few breaks where it is necessary to cross the road. It is very scenic and relaxing, and is also used by people walking dogs, riding horses, other cyclists, and other people just enjoying a stroll so being courteous is a must. There are signs placed along the line with bits of history about the line and how it came to be.


  • Aberdeen Art Gallery [12] Schoolhill. Tel: 01224 523700, [13] Open Tuesday-Saturday 10.00AM-5.00PM, Sunday 2.00PM-5.00PM. The Aberdeen Art Gallery is set in a Victorian building with an exquisite marble and granite main hall. In the several large rooms there are housed paintings and sculptures numbering in the hundreds, featuring Impressionist pieces as well as modern art and works by the Scottish Colourists. There is also a display of antique silverware and decorative pieces. There are also numerous special exhibits by many acclaimed artists, a recent example being Quentin Blake. For those who like art, an afternoon could easily be spent here, but at least a quick browse is well worth it for anyone. Admission free.
  • The Gordon Highlanders Museum [14] St. Lukes Viewfield Road. Tel: 01224 311200, [15]. Open first Tuesday in April to last Sunday in October, Tuesday-Saturday 10.30AM-4.30PM, Su 1.30PM-4.30PM (last admission 4PM). November-March open by appointment only. Closed Mondays. At the Gordon Highlanders Museum you can re-live the compelling and dramatic story of one of the British Army’s most famous regiments, through the lives of its outstanding personalities and of the kilted soldiers of the North East of Scotland who filled its ranks. Exhibits include a real Nazi flag from Hitler’s staff car, and there is a small cinema where you can watch a film on the history of the regiment. For the younger visitors there are a number of uniforms to try on, and there is also a coffee shop. For those interested in military history this small gem is a must. Admission: Adults: £2.50, Children: £1.00, Seniors: £1.50, Closed season: £3.00.
  • The Maritime Museum [16] Shiprow. Tel: 01224 337700, [17]. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10.00AM-5.00PM, Sunday 12.00PM-3.00PM. This attraction, rated five-star by the Scottish Tourist Board, offers an extraordinary insight into the mechanics and technology of ships and oil rigs, Aberdeen’s rich maritime history and the lives of some of the people who have worked offshore in the North Sea for the past 500 years. The newest part of the complex is a blue, glass-fronted building on the cobbled Shiprow, just minutes from Union Street. Inside is a spiral walkway, rising upwards around an eye-catching model of an oil rig. Connected to this structure are the much older buildings which take visitors through a series of castle-style corridors and staircases to reach the numerous room sets, historical artefacts and scale models. If your time in Aberdeen is limited, go and see this. There is so much to see, and even the buildings themselves are worth a look. There is also a restaurant – slightly expensive, but the food is pretty good. Admission free.
  • The Marischal Museum [18] Broad Street (entrance through arch). Tel: 01224 274301, [19] Open Monday-Friday 10.00AM-5.00PM, Sunday 2.00PM-5.00PM. The museum is currently closed until mid-2010 due to the extensive building work being performed to convert Marischal College into the Aberdeen City Council headquarters. Covering 8000 years of local and world history, this generally undiscovered museum houses the results of numerous expeditions by local people over the past two centuries. The collection, spread over several floors in the stunning Marischal College building, includes pieces from such diverse locations as the Balkans and Tibet. As well as the varied international exhibits, the museum also presents an insightful look at the history of the north-east of Scotland under the banner of The Encyclopaedia of the North-East. Very worthwhile, and considering the range of excellent displays the free admission seems all the better. Admission free.


The nearest Aberdeen has to a Bohemian Quarter is centred around Belmont Street, halfway down Union St. It has many nice bars, live music venues, a couple of second-hand book stores and an arthouse cinema, named The Belmont.

  • Satrosphere Science Centre(Aberdeen Science Centre), The Tramsheds, 179 Constitution Street, Aberdeen, AB24 5TU, 01224 640340, [20]. Satrosphere Science Centre is Scotland’s first science and discovery centre, and first opened to the public in 1988. The centre has over 50 hands-on interactive exhibits and live science shows, which inspire the scientist within as well as entertain the whole family. 


If you feel like a workout, a massage or a fun-filled swim, the Beach Leisure Centre [21] on the Beach Promenade is worth a visit. Access to the gymnasium is £4.40 (over 18′s only). The swimming pool offers a wide range of attractions, including water slides, rapids and waves, and is suitable for the whole family. These are the admission prices:

  • Adult: £3.10
  • Child: £1.55
  • Student: £1.55
  • Family: £7.40
  • 5 flume rides: £1.90
  • 10 flume rides: £3.15

If speculating is more your thing, why not go and watch Aberdeen’s home grown, Scottish Premier League football (soccer) team Aberdeen Football Club (or “The Dons”) at work at their home ground of Pittodrie [22] ?

Aberdeen’s long beaches are also ideal for water sports such as surfing, windsurfing and Kitesurfing.


If you want to go and see a show or a concert, there are four main venues in Aberdeen, each a distinct and atmospheric setting for any kind of performance:

  • The Music Hall [23] on Union Street offers most of the classical music events, but is becoming a more popular venue for other forms of music.
  • His Majesty’s Theatre [24] on Rosemount Viaduct plays host to the vast majority of musicals and plays which visit Aberdeen. Recent examples include the famous Miss Saigon. If you are in town over the Christmas period with children, a trip to a showing of the annual pantomime is a must!
  • The Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) [25] on the A90 (in Bridge of Don) is the venue for most of Aberdeen’s pop and rock concerts. In frequent years wrestling has been a fixture as well. The venue has recently been dramatically expanded, and most functions are now held in the brand new building. If you are stuck for finding the AECC, look for the tall viewing tower, a fixture of the new structure. It is easily visible from most points close to the River Don.
  • The Lemon Tree [26] was once regarded as a rather “fringe” venue, and indeed it still is the launching platform for many alternative acts, but the sheer variety of talent on display (blues, rock, comedy and dance, to name but a few genres) rivals that of the three venues above. The interesting location creates a great atmosphere, and is one of the main venues for the annual International Jazz Festival (see below).


  • University of Aberdeen, [27]. One of the oldest universities in the UK, it is renowned for its teaching and research. 
  • The Robert Gordon University (RGU), [28]. Awarded university status in 1992, this university has very strong ties with industry and has a high level of graduate employment. 
  • Aberdeen College, [29]. The largest further education college in Scotland, it has campuses within the city and without. 


The main street in Aberdeen is Union Street. It is wide and around a mile long with beautiful buildings on each side. It appears a bit worn and is mainly filled with standard Scottish high street shops. However it is worth a walk. Local independents include Nova on Chapel Street but sadly, Esslemont and Mackintosh, an independent department store, closed in 2007.

Aberdeen has a number of covered central shopping centers including the Bon-Accord Centre (general high street shops), St. Nicholas Centre (general high street shops), The Academy (boutique shops), Trinity Centre (general high street shops) and the newly opened Union Square (general high street shops/boutique shops and with a variety of places to eat inside the centre,[30]

The city has all the department stores and high street shops you would expect in any modern Scottish urban area, clustered around the centres above and along the mile-long Union Street. The table below is a guide on where to find some of the major shops, and what they specialise in.

  • John Lewis, Bon Accord Centre/George Street, department store.
  • Debenhams, Trinity Centre, department store
  • Marks and Spencer, St. Nicholas Square (off Union Street), department store and supermarket
  • Next, St. Nicholas Centre/Berryden Retail Park, clothing and homewares
  • Primark, Bon Accord Centre/Union Street, clothing
  • GAP, St. Nicholas Square, clothing
  • H&M, Union Street, clothing
  • Waterstones, Union Street, books and educational guides
  • HMV, Trinity Centre/Union Street; music, movies, and games
  • One Up, Belmont Street, brilliant music store
  • Forbidden Planet,Belmont Street, Science Fiction store

When shopping, don’t be limited to the malls and chain stores! Aberdeen has a vast collection of small, tucked-away shops which can provide everything from Bohemian dressware to Indian furniture. If you are adventurous enough then you may uncover a hidden wonder.

  • Ethnic Style, Schoolhill road(Outside of Bon Accords Main entrance). Fairtrade clothing and other assorted items from fairtrade suppliers 


Aberdeen has hundreds of restaurants, catering for every taste, to choose from. As with shops, there are well-known, easy to spot places, and out of the way ones. However, we’ll leave the exploring up to you. Here is a list of more popular haunts in the central area, sorted by “cuisine”:

If you want a lunchtime soup or sandwich try the Beautiful Mountain or Books and Beans on Belmont Street. Both are popular because of their good soup, sandwiches and atmosphere.

  • Earl Of Sandwich, Market Street. The best sandwich shop in town playing the best music in town. Moving soon to just around the corner on ‘The Green’, the original village center of Aberdeen.
  • Pizza Express, Union Street. A very good menu with great food. Modern setting. Not the cheapest, but reasonable.
  • Lahore Karahi, King Street. A relatively new entrant to the established Aberdonian Curry Houses, Lahore Karahi offers arguably the most authentic Pakistani/Indian cuisine, and at the best of prices too.
  • Musa art and music cafe, 33 Exchange St. A great restaurant/cafe/art gallery with the best food in Aberdeen and sometimes with live music
  • La Lombarda, 2-8 King Street. One of Aberdeen’s most popular Italians, and with good reason. Good location next to Castlegate.
  • Little Italy, 79 Holborn Street. A bit pricey, but a wonderfully rustic decor makes for great atmosphere. A bit out of the way.
  • KURY, 22-24 King Street. Consistent rave reviews make this Indian restaurant a hotspot. Slightly overpriced, but it’s worth it.
  • The Royal Thai, [31]. The oldest Thai restaurant in Aberdeen and it shows in how exceptional the food is. 
  • Yatai, 73-75 Skene Street, a short walk from Union street. Small and a little expensive, but excellent Japanese food including Sushi.
  • Chinatown, 11 Dee Street, just off Union Street. Great Chinese food along with nice, vibrant decor and a bar make this restaurant highly recommended.
  • Jimmy Chung’s, 401-405 Union Street.
  • Yu, 347 Union Street. Reasonably-priced food. Good, but nothing to shout about. Convenient location.
  • The Illicit Still, off Broad Street. Sensibly priced pub grub.
  • The Bassment, Windmill Brae, off Union Street. Really good American grill reasonably priced. Also do excellent cocktails, served with more than a little flare!
  • The Beautiful Mountain, Belmont Street. Fine sandwiches, soups, smoothies and Sunday breakfasts!
  • Kilau, Little Belmont Street. Crepes, sandwiches, coffee, art and Irish Tony!
  • Nazma Tandoori, Bridge Street. Alongside the Blue Moon, Holburn Street, this is the most authentic and finest Indian restaurant in Aberdeen.


Like any Scottish city Aberdeen has its fair share of bars and nightclubs. There are hundreds of licensed premises in the city to choose from that cater for every taste. Due to the large student population there are always student deals around to find if you want them, that often extend to everyone and not just those with student cards.

The classiest and most approachable starting point for a night out is Belmont Street. It houses 9 bars and 3 nightclubs.

  • Triple Kirks [Exodus Nightclub]. An excellent student & local drinking hole and part of the ScreamPubs chain. Exodus focuses on Indie/Alternative and Classic Rock, Pop & Soul.
  • Revolution Bar. Part of the Revolution chain specialising in cocktails. Has a wonderful smoking terrace out the back.
  • The Wild Boar. A quieter setting, sometimes with acoustic live music. Known for its wine selection.
  • Siberia (or Vodka Bar). 99 flavours of Vodka and a smoking terrace out the back.
  • Cafe Drummond’s. A small late-licence venue which focuses on live bands.
  • O’Neils. Irish themed pub with a nightclub upstairs.
  • Ma Camerons. Shows live football in a traditional pub setting with a roof garden.
  • Old School House. A quieter pub.
  • Slain’s Castle. A highlight of Aberdeen’s pub scene. An old church converted into a gothic style pub. Famous for it’s Seven Deadly Sins cocktails.
  • Enigma. Located in the Academy Shopping centre, with a secluded licenced courtyard.

All of the above bars serve a variety of food at reasonable pub prices, with the exception of Cafe Drummond’s.

One street along from Belmont Street, is Liquid Nightclub. Located on Bridge Place, this is by far Aberdeen’s biggest nightclub and regularly features guest DJs. Entry is usually around £5 it has discounted drinks every night. Also nearby is Espionage, catering for a slightly older market. No door charge, but full price drinks.

On either side of Belmont Street and you’ll find many other pubs:

  • The Prince of Wales St Nicholas Square, Just off of Union Street. Boasting one of the longest bars in Aberdeen and eight Real Ale pumps, sometimes called the “PoW” or quite simply the “Prince”, this pub is one of the hidden gems of Aberdeen packed with locals, oil workers and Students alike. They keep their beer exceedingly well.
  • Soul in the converted Langstane Kirk. Uppermarket.
  • The Moorings which can be found by heading down Market Street and turning left when you get to the harbour, is probably the finest watering hole for those of a rock’n’roll persuasion. Regular live music nights (both local and touring bands), a welcoming atmosphere and Aberdeen’s best jukebox make this a must for any visiting rockers. The pub’s logo, a mermaid twined round a Flying V guitar, features on T shirts for sale behind the bar.


  • The Mariner Hotel, 349 Great Western Road, 01224 588901, [32]. A cozy hotel in Aberdeen’s pretty west end. Rates from 70 pounds to 150 (for couple suite). The hotel features an amazing restaurant with excellent options both for meat-lovers and vegetarians.70-150.  
  • Aberdeen Youth Hostel [33], 8 Queen’s Road, AB15 4ZT. Tel: 0870 004 1100. A SYHA Hostel in a historic building near the city centre.
  • The Marcliffe at Pitfoddels, North Deeside Road, Pitfodels, AB15 9YA [34] is a 5 star hotel just outside the city center with a Spa and conference facilities
  • Mercure Ardoe House, South Deeside Road, Blairs, AB12 5YP Phone: +44 (0)1224 860600 is set in a Victorian mansion house, that looks somewhat like a castle. It is located just outside of town.
  • Skene House, 6 Union Grove, AB10 6SY, Phone: +44 (0)1224 580000 has three hotels in the town, all set in old tenement blocks. Each room has its own kitchen and living room and is basically an apartment that is run like a hotel.
  • Malmaison Aberdeen, 53 Queens Road, AB15 4YP, Phone: +44 (0)1224 321371, formerly the Queens Hotel.
  • Hilton Treetops Hotel, 161 Springfield Road, Bieldside, AB15 7AQ Phone: +44 (0)1224 313377 is a large comfortable hotel located in a suburb of Aberdeen
  • The Grill, Union Street(Opposite the Music Hall). A small severely plain interior, but a haven for a whisky connoisseur; whiskies from Scotland and around the world. Tasting menu available 

Stay safe

Common sense should see that your visit to Aberdeen be trouble free. Petty thefts don’t appear to be a problem, at least during the day. Beggars don’t tend to bother people further than asking them for spare change or a cigarette. They can just be ignored.

There’s a big rivalry between the football clubs Aberdeen and Rangers. However a big police presence on match days nowadays ensures minimal trouble in and around the ground and city centre.

Don’t attempt to drive in the beach area after around 9pm – the area is a magnet for socially-deprived “boy racer” types, who display little road-sense and take over the area at night in intimidating fashion.

Get out

Aberdeen is a good location to stay if you want to see castles, play golf or go on a distillery trail. Within 30 miles you can visit Crathes, Drum and Dunottar Castles.

The Malt Whisky Trail route is about 30 miles north and involves a number of distilleries including the Glenfiddich and Glen Grant tours.

If you want to play golf, the Royal Aberdeen golf course was founded in 1790 and is the sixth oldest in the world and the Royal Deeside course in the River Dee’s valley are both excellent.

Category: Uncategorized  | Comments off
• Monday, October 11th, 2010

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is in the Nelson Tasman region of the South Island of New Zealand, between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay.


Located in the Nelson and Marlborough Regions on the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. The park is closed to vehicles, and access is either on foot (from one of the various carparks mentioned below) or by boat, or if you’ve got money to spend it is possible to charter a helicopter or small plane (Awaroa only).

Some of the land in the park is privately owned – mainly in Awaroa Bay and Torrent Bay. It is important to remember this when visiting the park – the locals are friendly but they don’t want loads of travellers walking through their backyards all the time! However these areas are clearly marked so you shouldn’t have any problems.


The first European to visit the area around Golden Bay was Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer, on December 18, 1642. There he met a settlement of Maori, the native peoples, briefly fought with them and left.

Around 1855, more Europeans began to arrive and permanent settlements began to spring up. These settlements began to pillage the land’s resources – logging for homes and ships, mining of granite, and creation of pasture through burning.

The park, created out of protest due to concerns about heavy logging in the area, was officially opened in 1942, 300 years after Abel Tasman’s first visit. The initial grant was 15,000 hectares of government land and has since grown to over 22,000 hectares. It is, however, New Zealand’s smallest national park.


The most notable feature of the park are its beaches. The golden sands bring many visitors, some for just a day, others for overnight trips. However, moving away from the beaches and inland, the park is mountainous and rough.

Some areas of the park are very tidal. Watch out in particular for the estuaries at Torrent Bay and Awaroa – these can drain almost completely at low tide! So be aware of this before anchoring your boat in some places. In fact, at low tide it is possible to walk from Torrent Bay to Anchorage by walking across the empty estuary – this takes about 25 minutes, whereas the track around the outside of the estuary takes closer to 2 hours. Some beaches also have unusual sand bars – if in doubt, don’t go too close to shore in your boat, or you might run aground unexpectedly!

Flora and fauna

Much of the nature vegetation has been destroyed by the area’s early inhabitants, but left alone, the park is slowly renewing itself. All four species of Beech trees can be found within the park, an unusual find.

Wildlife, like much of New Zealand, consists mostly of avian life, but also like much of the country, the rarest birds, such as the kiwi, are not present. Other wildlife, such as the blue penguin, can be found in the more isolated areas of the park now that their population have begun to dwindle. You can still see lots (and hear!) lots of birds – keep an eye out for wood pigeons, tuis (you will definitely hear these even if you don’t see them), wekas (rare, flightless birds), oyster catchers (by the sea) and cormorants.

Much of New Zealand’s native wildlife is under attack due to introduced species and the Department of Conservation (DOC) along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) are trying desperately to halt these attacks. Stoats, a relative of the ferret, were introduced into New Zealand to control rabbits in the 1880s. However, those stoats, then and today, prefer the native animal populations such as the blue penguins over rabbits or their other “normal” prey.

When exploring Abel Tasman or any other national park, you may observe traps for introduced species such as the stoat or the possum. Please do not disturb these efforts to maintain New Zealand’s natural wildlife.


The Abel Tasman National Park is in one of the sunniest places in the country with over 2000 hours of sunlight per year. There is moderate rainfall that is spread out over the year and snow is occasionally found in the park’s higher elevations.

  • Average Temperatures
    • Summer, December – February. High: 72F, 22C. Low: 55F, 13C.
    • Fall, March – May. High: 64F, 18C. Low: 46F, 8C.
    • Winter, June – August. High: 55F, 13C. Low: 37F, 3C.
    • Spring, September – November. High: 63F, 17C. Low: 45F, 7C.

Get in

By car

There are four carpark entrances to the park. From here, you walk into the park.

  • Marahau. The southern entrance, 67km on a sealed road from Nelson.
  • Wainui. 21km from Takaka. The road is sealed for all but the final 2km.
  • Totaranui. 32km from Takaka. The road is sealed for all but the final 13km.
  • Awaroa. 31km from Takaka. The road is sealed for all but the rough, final 12km. This road has two fords which are susceptible to flooding.

By boat

Most companies depart from the Marahau or Kaiteriteri going to the main beaches of the park.

  • Wilsons Abel Tasman National Park +64 3 528 2027, FREEPHONE 0800 – 223 582. [1].
    • Vista Cruise: comfort, speed, environmentally friendly.
    • Vigour Water Taxi: the adventurur’s choice.
  • Abel Tasman Water Taxis, 64 3528 7497, 0800 423 397, [2]. Sailing from Kaiteriteri for NZ$24 to NZ$39 one way. There are also round trip touring packages available.
  • Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi, [3]. Sailing from Marahau for NZ$23 to NZ$50.
  • Southern Exposure, 64 3527 8424, [4]. Sailing from Marahau and several major beaches for NZ$22 – NZ$34.

By kayak

  • Wilsons Abel Tasman National Park, +64 3 528 2027, FREEPHONE 0800-223 528[5]. Guided sea kayak tours from 1 to 5 days. Can be combined with guided walking tours.
  • Southern Exposure, 64 3527 8424, [6]. Offering guided and unguided kayak rentals.
    • Guided tours. One to three days for between NZ$95 and $510. The two and three day tours are catered.
    • Unguided rentals. Two to five day rentals for between NZ$99 and NZ$180. Both double and single sea kayaks are available, however for a single you are required to prove competency.


The only fees associated with the Abel Tasman park are those required for sleeping in the park.

  • Great Walk Hut. If tramping on the Coast Track and planning to stay in huts, you will need to book with the DoC and pay a fee between NZ$10 – NZ$14, per night, depending on the season.
  • Standard Hut. If tramping on the Inland Track and planning to stay in huts, you will need to pay a fee of NZ$5 per night.
  • Backcountry Campsites. Expect to pay about NZ$7 per night.

Get around

  • Wilsons Abel Tasman National Park, +64 3 528 2027, FREEPHONE 0800-223 582[7]. From 1 hour to 5 days in the park.
    • Water transfers in style and comfort
    • Cruise & Walk (guided / unguided)
    • Guided Kayak & Walk
  • Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi, [8]. Hut-to-Hut pack transfers for NZ$8 – NZ$12 depending on weight.
  • Kayak.
  • Walk.


  • Seals. Fur seals can be seen in a number of places in the park and there is a large colony at Tonga Island. Do not get closer than 20 meters of the seals.
  • Tonga Island Marine Reserve.
    • Approach on foot. Start from Awaroa Hut toward Venture Creek and then over Tonga Saddle to Onetahuti Beach. If coming from the carpark at Tonga Quarry, a low tide crossing is required.
    • Approach by sea. The nearest boat ramp is at Totaranui and caution should be used due to unmarked reefs as well as strong winds.
    • By bus or hired boat. Consult the visitor centers in Motueka, Takak, or Nelson.
  • Cleopatra’s Pool. This is a beautiful rock pool with a natural, moss-lined waterslide! It is located about 1 hour’s walk from both Torrent Bay and Anchorage. If you follow the high tide track between these two places, you will eventually reach the turn-off to Cleopatra’s. A couple of things to be aware of – firstly, the track to the pool crosses the river (there’s no bridge, you have to hop across a few rocks), so if it has been raining over the last couple of days, it can be quite dangerous to cross. Secondly, the bottom of the ‘waterslide’ sometimes has a few hidden rocks – check it and clear away any big rocks before using the slide.
  • Falls River bridge. An impressive footbridge which crosses the Falls River. It is located on the track between Bark Bay and Torrent Bay.
  • Cascade Falls. A beautiful waterfall hidden in amongst stunning bush. The river, while cold, is also a good spot to cool off. Cascade Falls is located about 1.5 hours walk from Torrent Bay. This is one of the more difficult tracks as it is quite steep in parts, but it is definitely worth the hike! Set out from Torrent Bay on the High Tide track to Anchorage and follow the signs – the turnoff to Cascade Falls is approximately 15 minutes from the Torrent Bay campsite.
  • The Kaiteriteri WebcamKaiteriteri Webcam


  • Abel Tasman Coast Track. A 51km walking track that is classified as one of the Department of Conservation’s “Great Walks.” Plan on three to five days to complete the entire track. There are several crossing that are dependent on the tide.
  • Abel Tasman Inland Track. An easy to moderate 3 to 5 days through the park’s hilly interior.
  • Hunting. By permit only and not allowed from the third Monday in December until Waitangi Day. Check local papers for specific dates. An additional permit is required to bring a hunting dog.
  • No cycling and No horse riding. Neither activity is allowed in the park.
  • Swim – the beaches in the Park are quite safe – the surf is minimal and there is little risk of riptides. The water is also quite warm during the summer. Some of the more tidal beaches are also quite shallow just before and just after high tide, so are really great for young children.


  • There is nothing to buy anywhere inside the park.


  • All food must be carried into the park. There are no shops at which to purchase food or supplies. However, there is a cafe at Awaroa Lodge in Awaroa Bay. You don’t have to be a guest at the lodge in order to eat here. Bear in mind that it is definitely not cheap, compared with similar style cafes outside of the Park.

Please help to maintain the park’s natural beauty – take all your rubbish out with you!


  • Potable water is usually provided at the huts, but be prepared to treat drinking water through boiling, chemical, or filtering.
  • As always, be sure to consume plenty of water during your hike, whether overnight or just for the day.



Beachfront lodges:

  • Meadowbank Homestead – Awaroa Bay [9] Wilsons Abel Tasman National Park, +64 3 528 2027, FREEPHONE 0800-223 528
  • Torrent Bay Lodge [10] Wilsons Abel Tasman National Park, +64 3 528 2027, FREEPHONE 0800-223 528
  • Awaroa Lodge, 064 3528 8758, fax 064 3528 6561, [11]. Built in 1991 and located at the northern end of the park on 19 hectares of private land, the lodge offers 12 suites, 10 deluxe rooms and 4 family rooms. NZ$230 – NZ$380, depending on room, view and season.


  • Department of Conversation Huts. The DoC has 8 huts within the park, 4 on the Coastal track, 4 on the Inland track. All of the huts have heating and mattresses.
    • Coast Track. Bookings are required between October 1 and April 30, [12], 64 35469339, 0800 422 358. Backcountry hut tickets or passes are not valid for the Coast Track.
      • Anchorage Hut. 24 bunks.
      • Bark Bay Hut. 28 bunks.
      • Awaroa Hut. 22 bunks.
      • Whariwharangi Hut. 19 bunks.
    • Inland Track.
      • Awapoto Hut. 12 bunks.
      • Castle Rock Hut. 8 bunks.
      • Moa Park Hut. 4 bunks.
      • Wainui Hut. 4 bunks.
  • Totaraniu Campground. Camp office, potable water, flush toilets, cold showers, fireplaces and car parking, but no electricity. Totaraniu is split into two sections:
    • Coast Track Campground. This section of Totaraniu is used by trampers on the Coast Track and is limited to one night. Bookings are required year round.
    • Main Campground. An extremely popular 850 site campground at Totaraniu. A ballot system is in place for bookings between December 1 and February 10. Stays longer than one night are allowed.
  • Other DoC Campsites. All 20 sites have water supply and toilets. Some have cooking shelters and fireplaces. Bookings are required year round. Campers do not have permission to use hut facilities. Camping limited to two consecutive nights at any given campsite.
    • Apple Tree Bay. 15 tent spaces.
    • Stilwell Bay. 3 tent spaces.
    • Akersten Bay. 3 tent spaces.
    • Observation Beach. 6 tent spaces.
    • Watering Cove. 5 tent spaces.
    • Te Pukatea Bay. 7 tent spaces.
    • Anchorage. 50 tent spaces.
    • Torrent Bay Estuary. 6 tent spaces.
    • Torrent Bay Village. 10 tent spaces.
    • Medlands Beach. 5 tent spaces.
    • Bark Bay. 40 tent spaces.
    • Mosquito Bay. 20 tent spaces.
    • Tonga Quarry. 10 tent spaces.
    • Onetahuti Bay. 20 tent spaces.
    • Awaroa. 18 tent spaces.
    • Waiharakeke Bay. 10 tent spaces.
    • Anapai Bay. 6 tent spaces.
    • Mutton Cove. 20 tent spaces.
    • Whariwharengi Bay. 20 tent spaces.


  • Adhere to standard Leave-no-trace camping and hiking. Do not stray from the beaten path as this practice causes permanent damage to the landscape. Be sure to carry out all trash and pick up after others.

Stay safe

  • Safety is your responsibility – always let someone know before you head into the backcountry. Leave your intentions with a local DoC office.
  • Be prepared. Check the weather and consider your equipment. On the coast track be sure to consider the tide schedule before starting – there are two crossing that must be made during low tide.
    • Insect repellent. Sandflies (small biting insects) tend to be very bothersome.
    • Sunscreen. The sun can be very powerful.
    • Spare food and fuel. Always be prepared to stay an extra day or two.

Get out

  • Kaiteriteri . You can pick up petrol, some groceries and find accommodation here.
  • Marahau . Accommodation and shopping here.
  • Takaka .

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• Monday, October 11th, 2010


Get in

You can get to Évora in several ways:

  • By bus [1] or [2], (from Lisbon the ticket is about 10 euros)
  • By Intercity train from Lisbon (ticket currently 10 euros in touristic class) [3]
  • By car (distance: 140 Km, from Lisbon take the A2 by either bridge, then A6, then N114 to Évora; tolls)

Get around

One of the nicer ways to see the city is by horse carriage ride. You can find them near the Cathedral.

Otherwise there’s no real problem in walking between most of the main sights.

Temple of Diana


There are some Roman ruins you definitely need to check out, there is also the Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel), which is totally ornamented with real human bones, creepy, kitsch, but a must see. Contrarily to what sometimes is said, it is not unique.

Chapel of Bones

The old aqueduct with houses built into the arches is interesting. It is completely dissimilar from the superbly structured one at Elvas, except that both seem far too much work for the trickle of water they carried.

You must visit the Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex, an important megalithic monument in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the largest in Europe. It´s situated about 10 km from Évora, going by Guadalupe. Continuing this trip, near Valverde, the Anta do Zambujeiro dolmen, also very unusual by its size.

In less than an hour you can get by car to Monsaraz (exit via IP2 to Beja, then turn to Reguengos), a nice, well preserved walled town on top of a hill overlooking the Alqueva Dam waters. There’s plenty where to sleep (cheap Bed and Breakfast and Turismo de Habitação, and an Inn) and where to eat. Around it are a couple important menhirs, one of them with engravings (Balhoa) and the other about 5 m high, and a anta(passage dolmen). The Xares cromlech is a conjectural reconstruction, and was removed from its original place due to the Alqueva waters.


  • There is a nice and big park (Jardim Público) where you can have a nice stroll.
  • Show yourself and see others at the Praça do Giraldo, the city’s social center
  • Roman ruins – Templo de Diana
  • Évora Cathedral and Cloisters
  • Historic Centre of Évora – UNESCO World Heritage [4].
  • Évora University [5] main building (on a ancient Convent, founded in 1559)
  • Eat and drink local and regional products.
No waste of space!


Évora, a university town, is expensive. There’s nothing typically local for you to buy there, and most certainly there are no bargains.


There are several traditional dishes:

  • Açorda
  • Migas com carne de porco
  • Carne de porco à alentejana

There are also several traditional desserts, all from conventual origin:

  • Sericaia
  • Bolo podre
  • Pão de Rala


Drink and carry plenty of water especially in the hotter months (July and August, eventually September). Especially in August, you will be advised not to go out in the sun between 2 pm and 4 pm, unless you are used to it.

Remember that just going in for a drink is a perfectly acceptable way of getting in to see the public areas of a Pousada.

Alentejo wines are some of the best-loved in Portugal, and there’s a variety of them. Some can be quite expensive.


  • Pousada de Évora – Lóios, Historic Luxury Hotel, Largo Conde Vila-Flor 7000-804 Évora, +351-266 730 070(, fax: +351-266 707 248), [6].  

This luxury hotel is located in the heart of historic the centre of Évora, a city classified by UNESCO as World Heritage. The Pousada de Évora, Convento dos Lóios, was originally a convent and one of Évora’s most precious architectural buildings.

  • Pousada de Vila Viçosa – D. João IV, Historic Luxury Hotel, Convento das Chagas – Terreiro do Paço 7160-251 Vila Viçosa, +351-268 980 742(), [7].  

The Pousada de Vila Viçosa, D. João IV, is set in the former Convent of Chagas de Cristo in the historical village of Vila Viçosa. Very characteristic with its intricate themed rooms, full of legends and tales.

  • Pousada de Estremoz – Rainha Santa Isabel, Pousada Histórica, Largo de D. Diniz 7100-509 Estremoz, +351-268 332 075(, fax: +351-268 332 079), [8].  

The castle of Estremoz is the result of the restoration of the magnificent Palace that King D. Diniz built for his wife, Queen Isabel, the Saint.

  • Pousada de Arraiolos – Nossa Senhora da Assunção, Historic Luxury Hotel, Convento dos Lóios 7041-909 Arraiolos, +351-266 419 340 / 266 419 365(, fax: +351-266 419 280), [9].  

The Pousada de Arraiolos, Nossa Sra. Assunção, is an example of perfect harmony between the traditional and modern concepts of Portuguese architecture, adapting the austerity of a 16th century convent to today’s standards of comfort and well-being.

There are several hotels and you can get directions in the Tourist Office, which is located in the main city square РPra̤a do Geraldo.

  • Casa Palma, rua Bernardo Matos29A. 20 euros for a double (in February 2006, required some haggling).  
  • Hotel Ibis Évora, Quinta da Tapada Urbanizaçao da Muralha, (+351)266 760 700, [10].  
  • Casa D. Antónia(Turismo Rural Alentejo), Rua Direita, 15 Monsaraz, (+351)266 557 142(, fax: (+351)266 557 142), [11]. A simple family environment is a principal characteristic of Casa D. Antónia. It has one suite and six rustic double rooms, all offering air conditioning, cable TV, private bathroom with WC, and a breakfast typical of the region. It has an Alentejan patio with a garden offering panoramic views to the west. Here you can enjoy the pleasure of looking out over the remarkable landscape of this vast plain. The summers are hot and dry, the winters short, with rain and sun. Our mission is to combine an enjoyable family atmosphere with the kind of comfort and tranquillity so many seek in this day and age. 

There’s a multitude of Bed And Breakfasts, though most will be fully booked during the high season.

Get out

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• Monday, October 11th, 2010

Richmond (New South Wales)

Richmond is an historic town on the north-western outskirts of Sydney in the Australian New South Wales, located on the Hawkesbury River.

Get in

Get around







Get out

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• Monday, October 11th, 2010

Royal National Park

The Royal National Park [1] is in on the southern fringe of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia around 35km south from the city centre.


The Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world. It is easily accessible from Sydney and is popular for picnics, walking and other recreation. The picnic areas within the park are largely at Audley, next to the Hacking River. The boatshed and Visitor’s Centre are there too. However, there are many other picnic areas within the park, and many other areas to explore.

Get in

This is general guidance how to get in to the park. The park itself is large, so check your plan your itinerary carefully, especially if you are not driving, to ensure you can get to where you want to be. Information on accessing specific destinations within the park is contained within the destination information, below.

By train

Cityrail [2] has services from Sydney City to Loftus, Engadine, Heathcote and Waterfall stations which are on the western perimeter of the park. From each of these stations you can access several signposted bushwalks. You can even walk beween them. At each of these entry points there are shops to purchase food a drinks. However it is not straightforward to access Audley, the main picnic areas, or the coastal areas of the park from these access points. The services run to these suburbs at 30 minute frequency and take 45 minutes for the trip.

To access Audley from Loftus walk east from Loftus following the tramline and the 45 minute easy walk to Bungonia Lookout over the river and Audley. Consider it you want to walk down the hill to Audley (or more to the point, consider if you want to walk back).

To access Audley From Waterfall follow the Uloola track for 3 hours to Audley passing Uloola falls, follow the signs from the station carpark.

Cityrail runs hourly services to Otford on the southern boundary of the park. This is an access point to the southern end of the coast walk. It is a 10 minute steep uphill walk from the station to the park boundary at Bald Hill, it is signposted. It is about an hour walk to Werrong beach (nudist) or two hours to Burning Palms beach from this point.

Cityrail runs services to Cronulla to meet a ferry [3] to Bundeena. This is an access point to the northern end of the coast walk. The trains run every 30 minutes and the ferries run every hour. Don’t expect them to connect. Turn left out of the exit to the station, and then left through the railway underpass to get to the ferry. About 5 minutes walk. It is 15 minutes walk from the ferry wharf at Bundeena to the park. You will need to know where you are going, and consult a map.

Topographic maps of the park can be viewed online at the New South Wales Lands Department [4]. Bundeena has a nice beach by the side of the wharf, and nice cafes. It is not strictly speaking within the park, but it is surrounded by it.

By tram

Loftus Tramway Museum runs hourly trams from Loftus station to the top of the hill at Audley every hour on Sunday. From the end of thr tramline there is a 1km sealed path to walk to the lookout at the top of the cliff. It is a steep 30 minute walk down to the main picnic areas at Audley. The tram line is only about 2km long, and it is possible to walk the length of the tram line from Loftus the days the tram isn’t running.

By car

You can drive into the park at Audley, at Waterfall and at Stanwell Tops. Follow the signs from the Princes Highway. A entry fee applies for all cars taken into the park. Sometimes there are attendants at the gated entryways selling entry tickets. Even when these are not on duty you are expected to pay. Rangers check cars for displayed tickets in the parking lots. You can buy tickets from the Visitor’s center and the kiosks. You do not have to pay if you are just passing through the park and do not stop. There are parking and picnic facilities within the park.

Get around

There are well developed roads to get around by car within the park, and these can be used to access the walking trails and the major picnic areas. There is plenty of parking at the main picnic areas.

Cycling is permitted on the trails but not the tracks unless marked (trails designed for ranger or fire access by 4wd, tracks are narrow, with steps, designed for walkers). Bicycles can access many trails that are closed to cars. The main sealed through roads through the park are steep and hilly, with many bends, and with cars that invariably exceed the speed limits and advisory corner speeds.

There are still many areas of the park can only be accessed by walking.

Maps of the park are available for purchase from the visitors centre in Audley, or many map and bookshops around Sydney. Individual brochures for the walks and beaches are available at no charge. Detailed topographic maps are viewable online at the NSW Lands Department [5].



  • The historic boat shed at Audley dates from late 19th century. Audley was a popular spot for visitors from Sydney at that time.


The Bungoona Lookout is easy to access, paved path walk, suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. The view over the Hacking River valley is impressive.

Flora and Fauna

  • Lyrebirds, Crimson Rosellas are common within the park. The Lyre birds tail fans out like a peacock, and they can often be seen in pairs. Crimson Rosellas common, some are used to being fed and they will eat out of your hand (although strictly speaking, you probably shouldn’t feed them).
  • Goannas can be seen around Audley (and elsewhere). Large monitor lizards.
  • Kangaroos and Wallabies, are rarer in the park then they used to be before the last bushfire. Wallabies can be seen in the bush by the Hacking River. Kangaroos on the open plains around around Era.
  • Turtles and fish can often be seen in the rocks from the weir at Audley.
  • Kookaburras, Cockatoos, and Galahs are common all over the park, as in most of Sydney



Stay safe. Carry enough water for your trip, water is not usually available in the park, and what water there is is often not safe to drink. Let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Although the park is not of the scale of other Australian National Parks, it is still possible to become lost.

The park is one of the best places to do day walks from Sydney. You can walk along spectacular sandstone cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean with views to the north to Sydney or to the south to Wollongong. Alternatively you can walk in the river valleys behind the headlands. There you will find tall rainforest trees such as the Lilly Pilly Acmena smithii or the fragrant Celery wood Polysias elegans.

Some of the walks are described on the park web page [6]

  • Lady Carrington Drive from Audley or Forest Island. This is a well marked trail from Audley, and probably the most popular walk in the park. You can cycle this trail as well with a mountain bike. It is mostly flat, wide and follows the Hacking River.
  • Coast walk. The Coast walk is a 30km walk starting at Bundeena and ending at Otford. See the section above on how to access these points. Along the way it passes most of the Park’s significant beaches, including Wattamolla, Garie, Era and Burning Palms. It climbs headlands, goes along sandstone cliffs and around rocky foreshores. It passes depression-era huts set in a valley with deer at Era, and no shortage of kangaroos. This walk is recommended to take 2 days. You can stay at Garie Beach YHA or camp at North Era with a permit. If you are fit and keen the walk can be done in one day. If you plan your walk during the migration of the humpback whales you might get lucky and see a mother and her calf.

A comprehensive list of the walks available, and details of the routes can be obtained from the Visitor Centre.


  • Wattamolla lagoon and surf beach is a popular safe swimming spot that you can drive to. It is a truly beautiful spot and the combination of lagoon and surf swimming between rugged cliffs is fantastic. However you will not be the first person to discover the location, and it is quite popular on summer weekends. At many times Wattamolla is simply a paradise lost, now with too many people, tourists, groups and crowds to truly relax. Try a weekday evening to have more space to yourself, arriving at 4PM during the summer still gives you 3 full hours to enjoy the beach. You will no doubt see people jumping from the cliffs into the lagoon below, and swinging from ropes and jumping. The lagoon is very variable depth, and people have had serious injuries jumping here, and needless to say the activity is not allowed. The surf beach is not patrolled, and is not really suitable for surfing, due to the cliffs to either side of the beach. Access Wattamolla by car. Follow the signs to the National Park from the Princes Hwy at Loftus. Continue straight ahead through Audley on Sir Bertram Stevens Drive until you get to the Wattamolla turn. Around 15 minutes drive from the Highway. Wattamolla is also around the halfway point on the Coast Walk from Otford to Bundeena.
  • Garie is a surf beach also accessible by road. It is patrolled on weekends in summer from 10AM. There is a kiosk selling ice-creams, coffee etc, weekends in summer.
View over Burning Palms
  • North Era. North Era is patrolled Sundays in summer. You can camp there, right on the beach, with a permit. The shortest walk to car access is to Garrawarra Farm, around 30-45 minutes down the hill. Most people camping there are doing the coast walk from Bundeena to Otford.
  • Burning Palms. The quickest way to access Burning Palms by car is to park at Garrawarra Farm and walk down the hill to the beach. The walk will take around 30 minutes or so, but its a steep hill on the way back up. Alternatively you can walk from Otford along the coast walk in around 90 minutes. Burning Palms is patrolled on Sunday’s in summer. The short walk ensures that Burning Palms is always nice and uncrowded.
  • Werrong is a nudist beach, accessible in about 60 minutes walk from Otford.
  • Little and Big Marley are unpatrolled beaches, and can be subject to rips, so take care. There is a lagoon behind Big Marley, but its not as nice as Wattamolla and not really suitable for swimming. These beaches are only accessible by walking, and you can usually expect to have them to yourself.

There is no swimming in the river at Audley.


The historic boatshed adjacent to the Audley picnic area has row boats and canoes for hire. From here you can paddle around, or head out on a half day trip up to the headwaters of the Hacking River. Private craft are not allowed in the river.


You can use a mountain bike in the park on trails (wide roads with a barrier to prevent access by cars) except where signposted. Pick up the brochure on cycling in the park from the Visitor’s Centre.

  • Lady Carrington Drive is a popular family off-road easy cycling location, and bikes can be hired from the boatshed which is an easy cycle from the start of the track. They can give directions at the boatshed.
  • If you have your own mountain bike you can catch the train to Waterfall and cycle along the Uloola Trail to the falls. Follow the cycleway south from the station past the primary school, and down the service trail. It is around 12km return cycle along wide and mostly well graded trail. You can cool off by paddling in the water by the falls if they are flowing.


Kiosks and Take Away

There is a kiosk at Audley within the Park open most days. They have gourmet pies and cappuccino. There is a kiosk at Wattamolla beach and at Garie beach usually open on weekends during peak times. Nice for an ice cream on a hot day, but don’t rely on them being open for camping supplies as they seem to close up if the business isn’t there.

There is a selection of coffee shops and take away places at Bundeena. There is a coffee shop and take away at Otford outside the park’s southern boundary. On a sunny weekend you will likely find an ice-cream van or two at Bald Hill, near the southern exit of the Coast/Cliff Walk.


The park is an excellent place for a picnic.

There are free electric barbecues provided at Audley, Wattamolla, with many picnic tables provided. There are still some fireplaces left for wood fires

There are picnic tables at regular intervals along the roads through the park.


Whatever you want to drink, bring it with you. Water for the walk or beer for the barbecue.


  • Garie Beach YHA [7], Garie Beach, ph +61 2 9261 1111 (email, fax 02 9261 1969). This hostel is accessible by walking 10km along the coast track from Otford pr by walking 1km along the beach from the Garie Beach car park. The facilities are very basic: there is no refrigeration or power points. There is solar powered lighting and gas stove-tops, as well as composting toilets. Dorm beds are $13 per night adults and $8 children. You can rent the entire facility for $120 per night.


National Parks and Wildlife Service, Farnell Avenue, Audley Heights, ph +61 2 9542 0648 (fax 02 9542 1420). Contact the NPWS for camping permits if you intend to camp in any of the campgrounds. Camping elsewhere in the park is forbidden.

  • Bonnie Vale camping ground. This campground has 40 sites. It is in the north-eastern corner of the park near Bundeena. You access it by road off Bundeena drive. The campground has excellent facilities including drinking water, toilets and hot showers, but there is no power. You can camp in caravans. The fee is $14 per night for adults and $7 per night for children. Bonnie Vale is a 15 minute walk from the Bundeena ferry wharf.
  • North Era camping ground. This campground is accessible by walking along the coast track from Bundeena or Otford, or by walking the much shorted walk from the parking lot adjacent to Garawarra Farm. The campground has composting toilets, but no other facilities, and wood fires are banned. The fee is $5 per night for adults and $3 per night for children.
  • Uloola Falls camping ground. This campground is accessible by walking along the Uloola Track from Waterfall, Heathcote or Engadine. The campground has composting toilets, but no other facilities, and wood fires are banned. The fee is $5 per night for adults and $3 per night for children.

Stay Safe

  • Mobile phone reception is very limited in the park. There are no transmitters in the park. If you need mobile phone reception move around, and try and get to the highest ground possible.
  • Most trails within the park are well developed and well marked. However some trails, particularly the coastal trails, include rocky ground, sea rocks, and beaches, where following the trail on the ground is difficult.
  • Eastern Brown snakes are sometimes seen sunning themselves along the less well traversed tracks or rocks next to the tracks. Sometimes they can even be seen on Lady Carrington’s Drive. They are a shy snake, and usually waste no time getting out of your way. Don’t do anything silly like try to touch one, scare it away with a stick, or corner one. Give them space, and they will get out of your way. Their bites can be dangerous, even deadly. If you do get bitten, get help.
  • Leeches come out when it rains. They don’t hurt, they do you no lasting harm, and will drop off when they have had their fill. They do leave you a bit bloody though if you try to pull them off. If you don’t want them on you, avoid walking in the rain, or wear thick long socks and long pants, checking them occasionally and avoiding brushing against plants. Insect repellent will deter them, but it also washes off in the rain, so it a bit hopeless, really.

Get out

Visit the Sydney Tramway Museum [8], open on Sundays and some holidays, just adjacent and North of the park turnoff from the Princes Hwy at Loftus. You can’t enter the tramway going south on the Princes Highway, so if you are heading south, follow the Old Princes Highway through Sutherland.

Travel south along the coast road via the new Sea Cliff Bridge. A bridge built over the sea by the cliff edge, just south of the park and Stanwell Park.

Travel further south along the highway, and in around half an hour you will be in Wollongong.

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