Donyale MacKrill - Go2Africa Creative Director
When I was 14, I toured Europe with my family. After two weeks, I was desperately homesick for Africa – I missed the bugs and birds, the dust and endless blue skies. My heart still belongs to Africa half a lifetime later. I’ve had the privilege of living and working in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt. My passion for sharing this great continent has taken me across Europe and the USA too.
Where have I travelled?
I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro, met gorillas in the mists of Bwindi Inpenetrable National Forest and been charged too many times to remember by elephant in the Chobe. I’ve spent time with the Masai in Masailand and the San in the Kgalagadi. I’ve followed the “prr-prr” call to find a rare Pels Fishing Owl in the Okavango Delta and danced to a ju-ju band on a sweltering West African night.
My favourite travel moment
My favourite human encounter was meeting Masai children in a remote village who had never seen a Caucasian woman before. They were especially surprised by my long hair because Masai women shave their heads. After running away screaming when they first saw me, they slowly crept close again, like nervous little gazelles, to stare at me in horrified fascination.
My favourite animal encounter was coming face-to-face with the last living silverback gorilla that Diane Fosey habituated – she was one of my childhood heroes so it was a real bucket list moment to encounter a gorilla she wrote about and observed when he was a baby. Tourism plays a huge part in the conservation of the great apes, which makes me proud to be involved in promoting travel to Africa.
My favourite landscape is on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. You walk up out of a tropical rainforest into distinctly alpine vegetation full of dwarf and giant plant species. Eventually the giants give way to strange twisted trees swathed in hanging mosses and then these too disappear, until only large tufts of grass dot the rocky path. Once the grasses are gone, there is nothing but the crunching of shiny black shards of volcanic rock underfoot, and the mad-eyed crows with their glossy black feathers riding the icy draughts above you. The transition up the slopes of Kilimanjaro is surreal, intriguing and unlike any other place I’ve been.
What I love about Africa
There are still truly wild places to explore, off the beaten track, beyond the booming cities and modern infrastructure. Africa is where mankind grew strong millenia ago – it was here that we formed communities, developed complex language, began to dance and decorate ourselves. It was here that we first dreamed of gods. In a way, every visitor to Africa is coming home to a place they know, deep in their bones.
Some African travel advice
The best attitude to have when you travel here is one of openness and flexibility. If you stay open to what the moment brings, this continent and her people will open up to you – they'll thrill, charm, surprise and occassionally frustrate you, but most of all, you'll go places unlike any other on earth and have the journey of a lifetime.
Where I'd love to go next
My next big expedition will be to Morocco. I’d like to sandboard in the Sahara and explore the incredible archaeological attractions in the country as well as sampling the wonderful cuisine. I’ll definitely take a moment to salute Bogey in Casablanca and visit the street markets in Marrakesh.