A dizzying drive through the winding mountainous roads led us to the ocean side cottages we were staying in. With 365 rivers, one for every day, navigating this small island of only 740 square kilometres takes time.
Tourists are a rare sight in the villages of rural Cuba. Locals ran out of their houses, waving, trying out their English, shouting the carefully enunciated “How are you?” The few vehicles were primarily horse drawn carts, farmers plowed fields with horses and I was surprised to see a number of cowboys on horseback.
… you see moose.
After a 2-hour drive through rural mountain villages in a decommissioned Russian army truck, we arrived at El Nicho conservation area, deep rural Cuba, a nature lover’s dream with hiking trails and a panoramic backdrop of the Escambray mountains. We hiked a steep rugged trail passing dozens of waterfalls.
The traditionally dressed Samburu guide greeted me in Swahili “Jambo (hello), my name is Lewya, think of Halleluiah,” he said with an enormous grin. He met our small plane after a brief 45 minute flight crossing the equator, the landing a smooth one on the short Muridjo airstrip at Ol Malo Conservancy in Kenya.
Dry smoky air, pounding hooves and the constant snorting of wildebeests welcomed us as we loaded our gear into the waiting safari jeep and drove on rough pothole-filled gravel roads (our driver referred to the journey as the “Kenyan massage”) towards our lodge for the next couple of days.
Antigua is unquestionably one of the world’s great beach destinations, having one for every day of the year – yes, there are 365 beaches. The Caribbean side of the island has the most beaches, some more notable than others. Darkwood Beach is located on the south west coast of Antigua about five minutes drive south of Jolly Harbour. Crystal blue waters, great snorkelling and gentle cooling breezes make this beach a favourite of many.
Although apprehension lingered at the “get go” of this trip, largely due to the darkness of the marina, unknown waters and our very first time on a houseboat—it dissipated the next morning in tune with the fog. When, three days later we had to debark our floating house, we just weren’t willing to leave. But needs must, so with maps, rendezvous and a full itinerary, we set off on a road trip to explore the Central Rideau area.