Martin Hümmer from PocketVillage traveled for 2 months through Africa and shares his story with us…
Hello and Mambo everybody! My name is Martin Hümmer and in 2009 I went on a journey to Africa that changed my life. I was traveling through Africa for 2 months with my good friend Florian who I’ve known ever since high school. Having had the possibility to share our travel experiences together has been incredibly enriching to us both.
My personal highlight and a must see for everybody traveling through Africa is visiting the Serengeti and Ngorongoro-Parc in Tanzania. The vastness of landscape and the masses of animals, that you normally only see in public zoos, are simply breathtaking. As far as the eye could see there was only dust and chaos, produced by the hooves of thousands of gnus and zebras. Camping in such an environment, as we did, is a unique experience. Imagine how strange we felt crossing the camping ground, being the only humans around, but fully aware that there are hyenas watching you whose eyes were actually the only thing you can see piercing through the dark, observing your every detail! But sitting underneath the african sky while looking up at the stars, listening to the chirring of crickets and the roaring of animals is simply unique and absolutely recommended.
My worst experience was traveling over 19 hours on one of those African bone-breaking buses! Each time we got off one of these 30 man-packed mini buses, I always felt like I had 30 new bruises all over my body due to the crazy ride that we’d just had. At the end of our Africa tour we figured out that we actually traveled 8000 km in total by public transport, be it by train, bus, car, taxi, donkey, tuk-tuk, bicycle, motorcycle, jeep or anything else you could probably name “transport vehicle”.
If I would have to summarize our trip in 50 words, I’d say: Amazing beaches, cocktails under palm-trees, stink, mosquitoes, lots and lots of rain, bothersome bargainers, unbelievable landscapes, chaotic travel planning, a lot of extremely friendly people, poverty, lions, giraffes, elephants, slow trains, a lot of new travel friends and all this emphasized by the usual African craziness.
Our journey has been really life changing for us. At first, we got quite frustrated by the fact that our guide books had for the hundredth time taken us to places swamped by tourists and to non-existing hostels. We ended up giving those books away and continued our trip without much further planning. This has been a decision, which in hindsight would become crucial for us, but we would never have foreseen where it would lead us.
We ended up knowing so many different people that we were offered somewhere to sleep nearly every place we visited. This made it a lot cheaper for us and had been especially helpful in regards to our rather expensive Namibia and South Africa tour. Traveling without guidebooks made us experience a lot of extraordinary accommodations. In Ethiopia for example, we spent a few days in a local family’s thatched hut. We also slept in monasteries, camping out (with permission!) on people’s front yards and some really freaky flat shares.
By discovering Africa on our own, we also got to know a lot of special places and had the opportunity to join a traditional celebration with the Maasai in Kenya, visited social projects in Zambia and Namibia, saw a pinniped rookery, found the perfect tracking path at Naikluft Mountains and spent many hours trekking through the Namib-desert impressed by its endless dunes.
Experiencing all this made it clear that this was the only way we wanted to travel from now on. We knew that we wanted to give others the chance to have similar travel experiences. Later, we found out that there are in fact brilliant off-the-beaten track tours in Africa. The only problem is, that it is very difficult to find them and that if you find them, you’ll have trouble comparing them. And this is how the idea was born to create pocketvillage, our new company which is basically a search-engine for extraordinary travel experiences.
Well, I hope that you enjoyed my story. Check out what we created at pocketvillage and give me your feedback. I wish you all wonderful journeys, wherever you are heading off to!
Hakuna Matata, Martin
Martin Hümmer – Martin is co-founder and CEO of pocketvillage, a meta-search engine for extraordinary travel experiences. He is responsible for product and front-end development as well as design. Together with co?founder Florian, he developed the pocketvillage idea on a six-month backpacking trip on the road from Addis Ababa to Cape Town.