Handmade in Tanzania by the women of WomenCraft
Since 1912, Mt Kilimanjaro has lost 82% of its ice caps. After finding out this devastating fact I wanted to find out a little more about what is causing such a rapid response and what the local communities think about their largest mountain. Our wonderful tour guides at Sirikwa Travel told us about the stories that had been passed to them about the mountain and what they believe is the meaning for its name.
They believed that the name is a mix of the Swahili word Kilima, meaning ‘mountain,’ and the Chagga word Njaro, loosely translated as ‘water’ or ‘white’ (possibly due to the view of the ice caps from afar.) There is no doubt of the mountain’s striking appearance set amongst the plains of East Africa. The first sighting of it is overwhelming, especially when you know you have to then climb it!
Bearing in mind the historic meaning for the mountain it is truly unfortunate to think that Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are in fact melting.
There are a number of contributing factors causing the glaciers to melt, but scientists point to climate change as one of the leading sources. Fewer clouds and snowstorms means Uhuru Peak has a front row seat to the sun’s burning rays.
Also, we can’t forget that Mt. Kilimanjaro is a volcano. Though it hasn’t been active for hundreds of years, the molten magma that exists far below its surface may be enough to slowly melt away the glaciers at its peak.
“Like climbing icebergs in an ocean of sand” is how ice climber and consummate adventurer Will Gadd described ascending the melting glaciers in late October 2014.
There are also other human inputs due to deforestation, which leads to less vegetation, less rainfall on the lower slopes and finally less snow on the summit. It is feared that most of it is happening because people don’t have energy supplies so they are cutting down trees to make charcoal.
People are still not taking this issue seriously because the melting glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro are not directly harming those that live around it. They no longer depend on the melted water from this dormant volcano for their needs in farming.
Yet, one can only imagine all the probable outcomes that can come off this melting scenario. Doug Hardy, a senior research fellow in the Climate Systems Research Center at the University of Massachusetts claims, “The shrinkage and ultimate disappearance of these glaciers will create tremendous ecological and social problems in the near future.”
Kilimanjaro, being a world tourist attraction, is a very big revenue-generator for Tanzania. And the motivation to climb this incredible mountains and reach snow almost at the equator is truly a bucket list experience. The Overseas Development Institute claims that about 35 to 40 thousand tourists visit the mount each year, with a total spending of about $50 million in the country. One can only imagine what will happen to Tanzania once its great protector, Mount Kilimanjaro, is no more.
Our tour guides also told us that the Kibo glacier was named after the Swahili word for Kibo ‘Wow’. Having climbed to the summit I can think of no other word that can be used to describe the beautiful view we had of Mount Kili every morning!!!
Kilimanjaro ice caps will remain in my heart and memories for a lifetime. I only hope generations to come will have the opportunity to enjoy it as much as I did.
I have been experimenting with different flavours inspired by some research into my next adventure to Morocco.
I have described some of my master pieces in the past as ‘one bowl wonders’ and can be the perfect dinner to save for leftover lunches too, (Okay – they might not have all been a master piece and it could be seen as a lazy style of cooking!). I also love my collection of artisan bowls so it gives me a great chance to show you these too.
I have a very relaxed style of cooking. I don’t tend to weigh out the ingredients and if you prefer an item feel free to add more, or if you have some veggie leftovers feel free to throw those in.
one pack chestnut mushrooms – chopped into quarters
half pack cherry tomatoes – chopped in half
one can chickpeas
one onion – chopped
handful chopped apricots
one red chilli
coriander or pine nuts to serve
Fry the onion in coconut oil until softened, add turmeric, chilli and cumin and cook for another minute.
Add mushrooms and tomatoes. Season and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add dates and chickpeas and continue to simmer with a little splash of water.
Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to to the packet instructions. Once this is done add to the mushroom and chickpeas and mix.
Scoop a large portion into a bowl and add coriander and pine nuts to serve.
I’m in love with this bowl and spoon set I found at Broadway Market in East London from Etchd home. Each piece is beautifully handcrafted from the finest thin ceramics and individually hand-etched with a crosshatch design and matte charcoal finish. (The spoon is made from coconut wood.)
Their ethos lies in the cultivation of artisan skills coupled with good design. We choose to work closely with family-owned businesses in Vietnam who benefit from generations of traditional handicraft skills and ensure they are passed on to future generations.
Namaste my beautiful adventurers..
This week I’ve been recovering from the triathlon and enjoying a few yoga classes in the city.
These are my favourite choices in London whether you’re in need of a work de-stress (usually me!), fancy trying something different (also me) or spending some time here as a tourist. Enjoy!
Blue Cow Yoga – Moorgate
Tucked away underneath an office block you could easily wander past without knowing it’s there but when you venture downstairs it’s quick to notice that this is a well equipped yoga studio (also offering Barre classes). In the city it’s my ultimate favourite. The yoga teachers are on another level when it comes to class structure. I prefer the dynamic class which is both challenging and relaxing. And if I’ve had a long day at the office I feel incredible and zen.
Yotopia – Covent Garden
I am often in meetings in the west end so usually when I am I like to take advantage of being able to drop by the Yotopia studio. Some of the classes are 90 minutes long which makes them great value for money. Every teacher creates a different class, and offers beautiful words of mindfulness. They are often on ClassPass which makes them even cheaper.
Fat Buddha Yoga – Ministry of Sound
On a monthly basis I try to get to the Fat Buddha Yoga class at Ministry of Sound. It is truly unique and Jessica is my ultimate fave! She is also a DJ and offers such a fun, enjoyable class. Being in this epic nightlucb with it’s lighting and atmosphere just makes it a real bucket list yoga experience. She has lots of other yoga classes popping up around some of the coolest parts of town so check her website for more details.
Yoga in the walkways – Tower Bridge
One of my favourite yoga experiences has to be an early morning session on the glass floor of Tower bridge’s upper level performing yoga poses with a suspended view of road and pedestrian life, all moving at pace 42 metres beneath me. The sun was rising, and everyone was rushing by on their way to work, whilst I pondered in downward dog above. The yoga was fantastic aswell so not just a gimmick. I’ve tried the yoga at the Shard too – great to try once too but this one I’d go back to again definitely. If you’re in London for a short period of time this is a great and unusual place to try.
Iceland – Tips for a Golden Circle adventure
Flying over Iceland felt like arriving on the moon. We were told there had been a ‘dump’ of snow overnight, yet the flight landed without a glitch. Heaps of snow were simply pushed to the sides of the runway. We are not in the UK anymore, in Iceland – it snows and they know how to handle it. We visited in March so not deemed the height of Winter, so if you’re reading this and planning a trip At any colder month – these tips will be useful.
Here are some ways to help you plan an awesome adventure:
- Take some loose change for some toilets and parking – sometimes it can be unavoidable to miss the spots that charge and we fell into the trap at our first stop – The Thingvellir National Park.
- Pack gloves that you can use while using your phone. It is too cold to take photos without them on – especially waiting for an exploding geyser!
- Pack a lunch – it is very expensive on the trail. We chose to hire a car which also meant we avoided crowds. We could take our time and stop for longer at our favourite places. The supermarkets are also a little pricey but we had some gorgeous tuna sandwiches and snacks on the go at much cheaper prices than the tourist centres.
- Wait for a Geyser – The Strokkur geyser at Haukadalur erupts every 15 minutes or so!!
- Layer on and layer off – The coldest place on the trip was the breathtaking Gullfoss waterfall and you will want to spend some time exploring.
- Just stop to take photos whenever you can. Although there are some obvious highlights on the trail, the views are breathtaking so take it in turns to drive, admire this beautiful country and just stop along the way.
- If you’re lucky enough (like me!) to not be a designated driver, a tipple of a traditional Icelandic vodka is quite nice to keep you warmed up. We bought a few mini bottles at the airport and also some wine to enjoy in the apartment in the evening – a much cheaper option.
I’ll be sharing my top tips and information guide to the Golden Circle and Reykjavik soon.
Rome is simply stunning, and just iconic! The Vatican, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps.. the List goes on! And just being in this city feels like a majestic step back in time. I just love it which is why I’ve been back twice! It would be easy for me to make this blog with a city that offers so many incredible places to visit so I thought I’d challenge myself and do what I love best. I’ve tried to search for hidden gems and spent my second visit on a mission to show you an alternative side to Rome. If you want to try something different you really wouldn’t be disappointed.
Who doesn’t love spending a sunset on a rooftop with a prosecco in hand? And it would be rude not to mention ‘when in Rome’ in this blog so I’ll get it out of the way now. Luckily Rome has quite a few that offer breath-taking views of the city. Our favourite has to be Eitch Borromini which is positioned in the historical centre close to the Pantheon. The terrace has a 360 degree view of Rome, that almost no other rooftop bar in the city can offer. Even the locals here wandered around snapping photos of the gorgeous skyline in between sips of their drinks. And an aperitvo arrives with each drink so although it is a little luxurious it really is worth it. Best to book in advance.
Street Art is encouraged by local institutions in Rome and as a result there are quite a few tours in operation. But if you just fancy a wander Metro Spagna has been recently involved in a non-profit contemporary urban art project. Here, widely known French worked together for two days to convert this high-trafficked area into something worth visiting, just before the iconic Spanish Steps. A great photo opportunity for an alternative trip in Rome.
Well the whole blog is suggesting this but here’s my top suggestion. Why not take a visit to the other Colosseum? The Palazzo della Civilta Italiana or more commonly referred to as ‘The Square Colosseum’. An impressive structure in the EUR suburb which was built by Italy’s infamous dictator Mussolini. Every Sunday a flea market takes place at the foot of the building and although it has a controversial history there’s no doubt of its iconic beauty. It has also appeared in a number of films including ‘Equilibrium’
I was fortunate enough to find some time to fit in a run on my break. Rome is stunning and so impressive to seriously impressive ancient buildings sat beside modern coffee shops. It was great to cover so much ground on foot, and the sights helped me to keep pushing on. I loved making my way into Villa Borghese park past the boating lake and the gardens. If you’re feeling even more adventurous they host a well-regarded marathon in May which features on many people’s running bucket list.
Something to drink…
The first time I visited Rome, I struggled to find a nice post-dinner bar or any nightlife that didn’t involve more food! So this time I decided to do my research and that sent me on my way to Trastevere. Even on the walk over, slightly warmed by a few red wines I was stunned at the beautiful bridges and canal reflections of Ponte Sisto, so with a quick photo break we finally ended up at the cobble stoned area of Trastevere. To my delight there were plenty of bars to choose from, small in size but offering lots of character. It’s certainly worth a visit if you want to meet some locals, drink some limoncello (which is only ever a good idea after wine!) and dance off some of Rome’s glorious gelato.
Something to eat…
For a chance to sample some of the best produce in Rome head to Campi dei Fiori. In this square, otherwise known as ‘the field of flowers’ one of the most famous markets in Rome is held. The beautiful square surrounded by elegant palaces is full of the bustling markets every morning except Sunday. Colorful produce is beautifully arranged everywhere, and you can’t stop taking photos. There are also food and small gifts that can be purchased far cheaper than other places in the city. Grab a slice of pizza, pick up some beautiful Italian prosciutto and enjoy!
The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to bring water into cities and towns—often from distant sources. I really could not believe how incredible they were up close and I couldn’t recommend seeing them enough. They a colossal and how they were built is still a marvel today. I’d definitely say they are must see part of Rome and a perfect addition to seeing this beautiful city from a different perspective.
Today’s mini travel guide takes us to San Sebastian. I have a piece specifically just about the amazing food locations here but here’s some key highlights to introduce you to this beautiful city.
Monte Urgell, after a gentle climb you are rewarded with an old fortress and beautiful views across La Concha Beach.
If you take the coastal path from Hotel Maria Cristina towards the harbor and La Conch beach there are beautiful views of the fishing boats, the historic buildings and Santa Clara Island. A great panaromic photo opportunity.
Check out the success and life story of a famous seamstress, at the Balenciaga museumn just a short drive from the city centre.
If you have time I’d book in for a surfing lesson at Zurriola Beach. Such a great way to fit in something active in a great spot for it. You can also earn yourself some more pinxtos!
Something to drink..
Txakoil, a light sparkling wine is a must here. Even just to witness the impressive way it is traditionally served. They pour it from the bottle at height to release its flavours as it splashes into the glass. It’s worth a try too!
Something to eat..
The food here is simply incredible. There are so many places to try. We booked on to an incredible walking food tour – more on this coming soon!
The charming old city center, Parte Vieja is famous for having the highest concentration of bars in the world!
Enjoy, CityGirl Xx
Kathmandu is a chaotic, noisy and busy city not too dissimilar to other Asian capitals, but also quite perfectly unique. It is often described as the gateway to the Himilaya region, a climber’s entry point to the extreme adventures that lay ahead. As we made our way across town feeling overwhelmed (and grateful for free airport pick up) we were instantly reassured by the welcoming and friendly Nepalese culture.
The capital doesn’t necessarily give you that feeling that you’re in a popular tourist destination. The Nepalese people use it to ‘live’, a hub for trade and business, as well as staging beautiful religious temples and stupas for them.
The main tourist area is Thamel. We stayed 10 minutes away from here so it seemed a good place to head to first, empty stomachs leading the way. Thamel is packed with hiking stores, gift shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s a great area to walk around even though the pavements aren’t very clearly defined! It’s enjoyable to watch the chaos from a rooftop bar. It was here that we tried ‘Momo‘, which is described as a vegetable curry-filled dumpling, a fusion of Indian and Chinese culture. The paneer options were also fantastic. We also got very excited when we noticed there is a local beer named Everest. Cheers to that!
After lunch we made our way to Swayambhunath – The Monkey Temple. An ancient, religious stupa on top of a hill that provides the best views of the capital, with a gorgeous mountain backdrop. It’s worth the hike and if you’ve flown over for the Base Camp trek, like us, you will probably feel obliged to. We’re supposed to be walking 130km so we better not give up now! There are sellers along the steps heading upwards, and guides which we avoided. I think the best value for money in this region would be to use an organised tour company if you wanted to find out more about the architecture. The stupa that presents itself as you reach the top is breathtaking and unique! It is here that we learned to walk ourselves clockwise, and spin the prayer wheels for the first time. A traditional part of the Nepalese culture.
For dinner we tried a recommended vegetarian restaurant called Places in Central Thamel. I’d highly recommend the butter paneer curry washed down with a Gorkha beer, (actually the more popular beer brand!) Seated on floor cushions we really enjoyed the informal setting. Afterwards we ventured to Purple Haze Rock bar for a quick night cap. A girl on the plane had recommended it to us and was a returning visitor to Nepal. The place was buzzing and live music played all evening. We were even approached by a group of Aussies who had scouted the area for a week and had not seen a busier bar so we were grateful for the tip! Deciding it was probably our last evening drinking for a little while we carried on into the evening! Oops..
The next morning we took a tour to two different tourist sights. The first was Pashupatinath Temple, a renowned Hindu Temple and a UNESCO Heritage site, and the second a Buddhist stupa, the largest in the country, Bodnath Stupa. With a tour guide it’s great to learn about the two religious cultures and traditions of the Nepalis. There are the infamous Hindu holy men that spend most of their lives by the Bagmati river and incredible architecture to be admired by the Temple. And the sheer size of the stupa is an experience in itself. Walking clockwise around the stupa you will find a monastery where you can watch the Buddhist monks perform religious ceremonies. The decor inside is beautiful and unique. It is worth leaving 4-5 hours to admire both of these religious sites. There are some perfectly located rooftop restaurants surrounding the stupa for lunch also.
For dinner that night we visited a traditional Nepalese restaurant, provided by our tour company. It offered a great opportunity to meet other mountain trekkers even though it wasn’t our favourite place. Nepalese Thali is a traditional mix of curry, rice, momo and vegetables which is worth finding while you’re in Kathmandu. If you’re spending your time in Nepal on a tour I’d highly recommend the dinner anyway as we spent most of the evening asking tonnes of questions to the group that had just made their way back from Everest!! The stories, although some quite scary were incredible, and a joy to listen to! And told with huge smiles makes it all seem worth it.
After an early night we embarked on our flight to Lukla airport. The scariest airport in the world. Footage coming in the next blog so keep an eye out. I’ll also be posting a photo gallery for Kathmandu!
Enjoy, CityGirl X
I’m a full time explorer with a passion for adventure and photography. I love being outdoors and experiencing each country with a preference to get off the beaten track.
I also work full time in London and love to keep fit taking part in triathlons and usually spending weekends running and hiking across the UK. I have a passion to be my best self and I hope I can inject some wellbeing into your lifestyle and travel.
Expect regular blog posts, beautiful photography and mini travel guides to help you with your own adventures.
Enjoy, CityGirl Xx