Africa Travel + Information, Far-Flung + Close to Home

I depart for east Africa 6 weeks from today. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. Much remains to be done -- including yellow fever vaccinations and other mundane tasks -- but I'm confident everything will get completed in time.A couple of unique recommendations for anyone interested in further-flung travel, in one case Africa specifically and the other with more global appeal. BarCamp Africa is slated to take place on October 11 at the Googleplex and offers to be an extraordinary day full of issues, ideas and initiatives related to the continent (and people keen to learn more about them, get involved more directly, or who already have relevant and want to share it). I've been asked to moderate a panel on social and human issues in Africa (people, politics, policy). What an honor. I expect that much will dovetail also with economics (including, of course!, microfinance).My Africa trip planning has also gotten a kick start thanks to the new Offbeat Guides. The concept is fantastic -- customized travel guides for cities / places around the world that are created online (and then formatted into a printable, pocket-sized, user-friendly PDF). Included are weather forecasts, festivals and special events, etc. specifically for the dates you will be there. No more lugging around bulky travel guides of which only 10% of the info is relevant at any given time. No more worrying if you lose a guide en route (or anger at oneself if you loan it to a fellow traveler who unexpectedly takes the next bus out of town and leaves you stranded in a rural village in, say, outer Mongolia). I test-drove the site by creating a guide for Addis Ababa. More detailed info is definitely still needed for this particular city, though I doubt Addis is high on most people's travel wish list and am confident it'll be better by the time of my departure. What I would like to see most of all, however, is a travelogue component to each Offbeat Guide. Not least because of my own travelogging passion and tenure -- maybe I've finally found another outlet-idea for them? -- but especially because thanks to others' feedback to mine, I believe that candid, offbeat, first-hand recounts of "stuff that wouldn't normally be found in guidebooks" can be truly invaluable in helping others to see the world in a new perspective, whether doing so on-the-road or in an armchair at home.On that note, six weeks... and counting!