Johannesburg-based journalist Lerato Mogoatlhe has visited over 14 African countries. She has also lived in Ethiopia, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya and Mali among many other places. Scroll through to see some of the sights, sounds and experiences that she says make visiting African destinations unlike any other travel experience.
"I met Arrot (girl on the left) in a taxi after she guessed from my accent that I'm South African. I dress like a cliche when I'm traveling because standing out gets me noticed, which leads to social connections."
"This continent is made for adventure, and the best thing is that the experiences don’t feel like a tourist cattle drive. Ours is a continent of miracles, wonder and surprises, not to mention amazing natural beauty. The cherry on top is that when you are an African in Africa you get that special treatment. You are not just a tourist, you are 'one of us'."
"While planning a trip, I jot down thoughts, feelings, expectations and my mood. I also let people I meet write in my journal. It started with names and phones numbers, and turned into stories. In one journal there is an Islamic prayer offered to me during Ramadan on a trip from Guinea to Mali."
"My first memory of realizing that the world is bigger than what’s around the corner was when I was 7 years old during a lesson on ancient Egypt. It was there that I was introduced to history beyond living memory. Experiencing it with my senses lived up to all the expectations, and the Egypt I had created in my head. After a lifetime of reading about Imhotep, I touched the pyramids he built in what used to be the ancient city of Memphis in Cairo. I spent hours at the Egyptian museum, finally exploring the biggest collection of ancient artefacts."
"When you tend to go with the flow instead of doing what’s in the guide books like me, you need a go-to wow outfit. You’ll have moments when you wish you had your killer look. For instance, I once found myself lunching with Former South African Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe and then Malian president Amadou Toumani Touré at an event in Timbuktu."
"In 2009, I went to the festival of the desert in Mali, about 60km from Timbuktu, to see my favorite artist Habib Koite on stage for the first time. I made friends with a group of guys who happened to be friends with him. So there I was with my cultural icon, who translated the conversation from French and Bambara to English for me. We drank whiskey, Habib bought a whole sheep alive on site. We ate it roasted, served with pita bread. The headline act was Salif Keita. Habib held my hand, helping me walk up the dunes to the stage. Afterwards we went to a party, where tequila flowed, and the DJ played ratchet music."
"The theme was dress traditional. The guy's name is Milla, he was dressed in the traditional dress of the people of Afar region."
"In one journal. there is an Islamic prayer offered to me during Ramadan on a trip from Guinea to Mali. There’s a journal with an improvised layout of Turmi village in Omo Valley in Ethiopia, drawn at a coffee shop where no one spoke English. The map was the guy’s way of helping me get to where I needed to be. There is a letter written by Mr Samson in Quilemane, Mozambique, asking his friend to let me cook my dinner in his kitchen."