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But Seriously, Where Can I Stroll?

But Seriously, Where Can I Stroll?

Old Apr 15, 22, 12:05 pm
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But Seriously, Where Can I Stroll?

Hi FT,

This question might be best suited for the likes of @B747-437B and @Stewiemac, but of course all are welcome to reply.

Outside of Mediterranean Africa and South Africa, are there any cities worthy of a good stroll? Dakar and Accra sound easy enough, but what about Nairobi?

I like walking to discover unusual architecture, street food, and just check out the daily life of locals -- not to mention, places where taking photos of seemingly innocuous buildings wouldn't draw the ire of anyone -- but I reckon some cities are muuuuch better suited for constitutionals than others.

Appreciate your help,
BmB

n.b. Harare was walkable, there just wasn't much to see. Addis was slightly more difficult given the altitude, and the two death threats I randomly received by the Derg museum. Don't need to return to either place, unless it's for a flight transfer.
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Old Apr 15, 22, 1:51 pm
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Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
Outside of Mediterranean Africa and South Africa, are there any cities worthy of a good stroll? Dakar and Accra sound easy enough, but what about Nairobi?

I like walking to discover unusual architecture, street food, and just check out the daily life of locals -- not to mention, places where taking photos of seemingly innocuous buildings wouldn't draw the ire of anyone -- but I reckon some cities are muuuuch better suited for constitutionals than others.
Good questions.

I have enjoyed strolls in Abidjan. It is quite a lively city and some decent promenades in the Plateau area.

Malabo is a fascinating city with friendly people and interesting Spanish architecture, but don't try to take photographs of anything.

Parts of Nairobi could be good for strolls I guess, in Gigiri and the other diplomatic areas. I wouldn't venture to Kibera or the like though.

In Lagos, a stroll might be quicker than driving at some times of day.

Stonetown in Zanzibar is perfect for walking (you don't really have much choice). Always something new around every corner.

Luanda is very lively on the beachfront.

Most of the West African coastal cities have interesting waterfronts, often influenced by architecture from the slave trading and colonial eras.
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Old Apr 15, 22, 2:11 pm
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Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
Good questions.

I have enjoyed strolls in Abidjan. It is quite a lively city and some decent promenades in the Plateau area.

Malabo is a fascinating city with friendly people and interesting Spanish architecture, but don't try to take photographs of anything.

Parts of Nairobi could be good for strolls I guess, in Gigiri and the other diplomatic areas. I wouldn't venture to Kibera or the like though.

In Lagos, a stroll might be quicker than driving at some times of day.

Stonetown in Zanzibar is perfect for walking (you don't really have much choice). Always something new around every corner.

Luanda is very lively on the beachfront.

Most of the West African coastal cities have interesting waterfronts, often influenced by architecture from the slave trading and colonial eras.
Thanks, @B747-437B! I knew you'd be one of the authorities on this subject. Have you already mentioned your favorites?

So, overall, a caucasian guy meandering through Abidjan and Malabo without taking photos could work? Indeed, Equatorial Guinea intrigues me because it would be fun to learn some of their slang, and compare it with that from Mexico.

Lagos ... I've always wanted to visit, but can't quite wrap my noggin around it. The few people I know who have gone have always had police escorts, and have mentioned that Murtala Muhammed Airport is "riveting," about the only non-wartime airport they've ever been to where people can't wait to leave. How's Abuja?
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Old Apr 15, 22, 3:35 pm
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You'll typically get a lot of "don't bother with XYZ city" when you ask these kinds of questions, but I personally feel that most places have something to offer/some redeeming quality. I remember before I went to Lome, a few people told me to forget it and head straight to Accra. I actually loved my time in Lome.

To keep it brief, almost all of the cities in West Africa on the water have really lively beach fronts and some other fun places (such as the Fetish market in the aforementioned Lome), and yes, you can easily wander around. Obviously I would keep your guard up and wouldn't do too much wandering at night... but during the day you are fine. I love these countries and cities because the coastal highway makes it very easy to get between them. You can do and see a lot in a relatively short span of time.

Lagos is a bit of a different animal. It's an overwhelming city and a place you would be fine to wander, but you will get so much more out of it if you have a contact.

Dakar and the French influence is fantastic. I'd love to go back.

Most cities in that part of the world (at least that I've visited) are quite spread out so you will certainly need taxis/rides to get to and from certain areas and neighborhoods. It's not like NYC where you can walk all the way from, say, Central Park to FiDi if you really wanted to.
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Old Apr 15, 22, 5:54 pm
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Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
Lagos ... I've always wanted to visit, but can't quite wrap my noggin around it. The few people I know who have gone have always had police escorts, and have mentioned that Murtala Muhammed Airport is "riveting," about the only non-wartime airport they've ever been to where people can't wait to leave. How's Abuja?
I've been visiting Lagos on-and-off for the last 20 years so I guess it doesn't phase me anymore. I detest traffic (partly why Nairobi also drops down my list) so I try to keep my activities to the Ikeja area when possible, which is a bit meh.

Abuja is a very different city to Lagos and honestly I thought about listing it in my original comment. The only drawback is that it is a planned city so doesn't really have a downtown or historical area that would be an obvious place to stroll. There are plenty of joggers and strollers in the mornings and evenings in some of the higher end neighborhoods though.
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Old Apr 15, 22, 7:45 pm
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Originally Posted by pstm91 View Post
You'll typically get a lot of "don't bother with XYZ city" when you ask these kinds of questions, but I personally feel that most places have something to offer/some redeeming quality. I remember before I went to Lome, a few people told me to forget it and head straight to Accra. I actually loved my time in Lome.
Appreciate your reply, pstm! Lome is intriguing since ET will soon serve a total of two US destinations through it.

However, I think there's a difference with "don't bother," and "seriously?!" Are Bangui and Niamey on my list of places to visit? Not necessarily. But all of those other places listed above sound just dandy.

(The Comoros are on the list, if only because of the wily fellow Bob Denard. However, traveling there doesn't sound too convenient.)
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Old Apr 16, 22, 9:00 am
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Itís a fascinating question! Iím not so seasoned an Africa traveller but..

* Lusaka was fine to walk around but not hugely thrilling
* I found Harare quite intriguing and saddening in a dystopian way
* Lome was good fun and I found far less aggravating than Accra
* Stonetown as noted above
* I had *imagined* Dar es Salaam would be interesting to explore
* Maputo was very absorbing but have heard some alarming recent safety reports
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Last edited by Swanhunter; Apr 16, 22 at 9:06 am
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Old Apr 16, 22, 2:04 pm
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I've lived in Nairobi and Kampala and have of course walked around quite a bit in those places. Although downtown Nairobi is a lot less pleasant these days than it used to be. I've also walked a lot in Douala. As for Bangui, no. Or if you do walk, walk in the middle of the road away from trees where venomous snakes sometimes drop down on people.

Kigali is great to walk around, but rather hilly so you'd better be in shape!
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Old Apr 16, 22, 11:01 pm
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Maputo

I walked through Maputo a few years ago and it as interesting - the train station and the waterfront around the Polana Hotel being particularly interesting for architecture. However, taking pictures is a big no no anywhere near the Presidential palace and the colonial villas nearby - I was endlessly stopped by soldiers near there.
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Old Apr 17, 22, 5:27 am
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Great replies, folks!

As for the photo thing, it's a damn shame. I only really photograph food and architecture, and have been yelled at for doing both (in Beirut, and Sandton of all places). Walking is fun, but the photos are for friends and family who wouldn't even think to visit _____.

Nevertheless, it seems like Dakar, Kigali, and Stone Town are safe and worthy of exploring solo, and that I should have a contact on the ground in Lagos. As for Maputo, I'd love to go for the piri-piri and to see the train station, but is there much else (in other words, is Beira the more recommended place?)?
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Old Apr 17, 22, 7:49 am
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Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
As for the photo thing, it's a damn shame. I only really photograph food and architecture, and have been yelled at for doing both (in Beirut, and Sandton of all places).
Where you yelled at in modern times? These days everyone in African cities has a smartphone, most likely Techno, and people take pictures all the time everywhere.
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Old Apr 17, 22, 7:28 pm
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Dakar is fine as long as you are wearing running shoes.
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Old Apr 18, 22, 2:09 am
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
Where you yelled at in modern times? These days everyone in African cities has a smartphone, most likely Techno, and people take pictures all the time everywhere.
I had this experience in Malabo just a few months ago. Literally everyone local warned me not to take pictures of the buildings in the old town, and even when I stopped to read some of the placards there would be an armed soldier appear saying "no photo, no photo".
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Old Apr 18, 22, 4:28 am
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
Where you yelled at in modern times? These days everyone in African cities has a smartphone, most likely Techno, and people take pictures all the time everywhere.
Sandton, by the guy sitting across from me at a picnic table.

Alas, this was in 2011, and I certainly haven't stopped taking photos of food or buildings.
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Old Apr 18, 22, 8:01 am
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Originally Posted by B747-437B View Post
I had this experience in Malabo just a few months ago. Literally everyone local warned me not to take pictures of the buildings in the old town, and even when I stopped to read some of the placards there would be an armed soldier appear saying "no photo, no photo".
Was there military or a US consulate nearby? Definitely do not use a camera nearby a US embassy.
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