Saturday, 19 October 2013

What to Pack for a Trip to Africa?

Traveling for a couple of weeks to a new continent such as Africa might be the experience of a life time. That's why the idea of a packing list might be more than useful for now as well as for future explorers. 

  • luggage
  • small rucksack 
  • Sandals
  • Walking trainers
  • Underwear x 7
  • Light socks x 6
  • Trekking socks x 2
  • Trousers x2 (with zip to turn into shorts)
  • Shorts x1
  • Swimming shorts x1
  • Long sleeve top x2
  • T-shirt x5
  • Polo shirt x2
  • Fleece Jacket x1
  • Light waterproof jacket
  • Hat
  • 7 inch Nexus 7 tablet (for work, blogging and keeping in touch)
  • Smartphone
  • Earphones
  • Universal adapter
  • USB External Battery Charger Power Pack
  • Phone battery charger
  • Head torch
  • Watch 
  • Canon pocket camera 
  • Charger
Useful things
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Swiss Knife
  • Carabiner x2
  • Tape
  • Duct tape
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses
  • Goggles
  • Sunscreen
  • Clothesline
  • Lock
  • Ear plugs
  • Small waterproof bag (for electronics/documents)
  • Plastic Bags
  • Lighter / Matches
  • Elastic bands
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Nail cutter
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Marseille Soap bars (for shower and clothes)
  • Tissues / toilet paper
  • Cotton swabs
  • Mosquito repellant (DEET 50%)
  • Fucibet cream (for treating insect bites)
  • Malaria tablets (Malarone)
  • Analgesic (Paracetamol)
  • Antipyretic (Ibuprofen – Aspirin)
  • Anti-diarrheal (Imodium)
  • Dioralyte (rehydration powder)
  • Azithromycin (antibiotic to treat food poisoning)
  • Motilium (for treating nausea/vomiting)
  • Thermometer
  • Plasters
  • Disinfectant
  • Passport (scanned and uploaded to the cloud)
  • Credit Cards
  • Health Insurance
  • International Certificate of Vaccination
  • Flight confirmations
  • Driving license
  • Documents photocopies x2
  • Book/s
  • Guidebook
  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Marker
  • Children Books (activity books: drawing, number puzzles, animals, football)
  • Pens
  • Markers

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Moon Walking. In Transylvania.

This article will tell you about a magic place in Transylvania, Romania where history meets a volcanic landscape that seems being cut out from Mars. Detailed location maps are at the end of the article.

Close Your Eyes. You're in Transylvania!

Breath deeply, close your eyes, forget for a second about civilization, Internet and catching the next train to work. You have been teleported to the south-eastern part of Transylvania, a magic land, 250 km north from Bucharest, off the main road linking Brasov to Sighisoara and you are following the rolling hills towards the village called Racoş (Alsórákos in Hungarian). More than half of its inhabitants are Hungarians. The rest are Romanians and Gypsy.

The first feeling that you get when you step in the village is that it has the feeling of a little town in an embryonic phase: houses tend to be more outstanding, having a neo-classical eye brow, little old shops pop here and there and the road side is covered with cobble stone.

The "Sleeping Beauty" Castle

In the main square you will notice the rounded bastions of Sukosd-Bethlen Castle built in 1625 in the Transylvanian Renaissance style. The small scale castle was the residence of count Sukosd. He received the land from the Transylvanian prince Gabriel Bethlen, as a reward for his loyal military services. Now the building belongs to the local community that seems busy with picking the crops in the fields or milking the cows. Inspite of this the place has a charm that seems imported from the "Sleeping Beauty" story.

Volcano Surgery. Welcome Inside!

At this point you may want to ask the locals the way out from the village to the "Volcano". Just up the hill and overlooking the village opens another magic to you. The 'mouth' of an extinct volcano that remained open in a sleeping and continuous yawning displays a Moon/Mars like landscape. Stripes of red melt with violet and green in a beautiful concert for the eye. Inside the volcano there's perfect silence. Here you can listen to the mountains' heart beat or hear the blue of the sky stroke by predator birds.

The multitude of colours speak of the intense volcanic activity in this area. They change by the hour with the intensity of sun and its shining angles. The aspect that strikes the Western traveler and explorer is the majestic silence and the purity of the air. Have a stroll and take a deep breath of air. In fact you are now in the heart of Transylvania and it is here the place where you can connect with veins of the Nature and History.

The Basalt Columns

If you believe that you are done for the day, it's a mistake. Within a throw of a stone you can discover a natural "screen-shot" of a lava eruption. The fast cooling down process gave birth to these basalt columns that recall the pipes of an organ. The geometry on display is amazing!

The Emerald Lake

The last present Racos keeps for you is the emerald green  lake that was accommodated in the cradle of a former query and supplied by the local fresh underground waters.

How to get there?

You can fly to Bucharest or Targu Mures airports and rent a car in order to drive to the south-eastern part of Transylvania, to Racos in Brasov county.

Useful Links:

More photos from the Racos Volcano:
A longer trip passing Racos (in Romanian language):