NGONG HILLS

‘the hills of adventure’

Every second I remember this place I shiver with excitement. It was the most thrilling and blood rushing place I have visited so far. It is not the people, it is not the animals but it is all about the scenery; the feeling of being one with nature, the adventure and the many obstacles that come with interacting with nature. The view is just to die for! Did you know that if you stand on the peak of Ngong hills you can see the whole of Ngong town, Kiserian, Kibera (the largest slum in Kenya), panoramic site of the famous Great Rift valley and some of Nairobi city? Don’t believe me? Well see for yourself!

Well what can I say? More like where should I begin? Do I start with the hills or the flora and fauna? Or should I talk about the windmills? The panoramic site of the great Rift valley? The grounds for hire? The restaurant on top of the hill? I am very confused! I think I will talk about the windmills fast. Ngong hills happens to be the home of a windmill farm which provides all of Ngong town and most of Kiserian town with electricity. This is one of the oldest and most sustainable way of electrical power production.

I used a matatu from town and alighted at Ngong town where I got a motorbike. Anyway, I arrived at the pay point where I decided to hire a guide since on that day I was a lone wolf and I had heard that it was unsafe to go by yourself. Only at a fee of 1500KES one can get a guide who will explain about the hills and also keep you safe. At the bottom of the text is my armed guard known as ‘Momanyi’- very good guide by the way.

Walking and hiking at the first two hills was almost too easy and somewhat cool because of the many rotating turbines, even though the sun was shining. With my one bottle of water in my hand continued walking slowly. Here we encountered human settlements and many animals enjoying the luxury of green grass.

At Ngong hills the law of nature- the higher you go the cooler it becomes is defied or maybe it was just me because I was busy dying of sweat and heat! But for sure the third hill began getting a bit difficult for my first-time hike. Atop here is the Kompass restaurant that has many activities; including zip lining, mountain biking and archery. Each of these activities at the restaurant at a fee of 1000KES.

As you keep hiking up to the fourth and fifth hill the difficulty shifts from moderate to very difficult. These two hills were very challenging for me. They are extremely steep and even if you are a seasoned hiker you will definitely break a sweat. As you can see from the image this two hills are quite steep, they cannot be compared to the first three.

As for the sixth hill I began getting into forested area and this is one of the reasons an armed guide is required to go to Ngong hills. Well I am panting as I right this! Let me sip my water as I continue. Okay so the forested hills difficulty(hard), here plants constantly brush you as if to say hello. (compare the difference in steepness between the fourth and the fifth hill)

When I thought the difficult part was almost over the seventh and last hill came into view. My jaw dropped in shock as I asked myself if I could manage this. This was very, extra steep with a very forested area. I was able to push myself and went all the way to the peak where the wonderful view I have been talking about massaged my eyes. Oh! I almost forgot to say this, seventh hill difficulty (extremely hard).

Believe me descending the Ngong hills is more difficult than going up the hills because at this point I was already tired and hungry. Finally, after three and a half hours I had hiked all the way to the peak and back to the foot of the hill. The only thing that I wanted to do was have water and sit down which I was glad to do immediately I got home. This place will leave you thinking, ‘who sent me?’

Ngong hills has many high points that have been used to install communication masts of several telephone networks. It is not only easy to see them from the foot of the hill but also from the summit. It also has 30 wind energy generation power sites. This is one of the major attractions that Ngong hills over to visitors. It is said that these turbines generate power to the whole of Ngong town and Kiserian town.

It is a major tourism attraction site due to its vantage point and it is mostly associated with scenic beauty. When one stands at the peak it is easy to see Nairobi town, Ngong town, The Great Rift valley and Kiserian town. It also has high altitude (seven hills) for sports training and hiking areas many are times that you will encounter famous marathoners and athletes training at Ngong hills.

It has beautiful grounds for hire that can be used as picnic sites and for religious retreats or weddings.

Are you a person who loves adventure? Do you enjoy pushing your body to the limit? Well the seven hills that make up Ngong hills is just the place for you. This place will push you to the breaking point, it will make you want to quit and turn back home; that is if you manage to climb all the way to the end. It is the best place for team building and if you also like running this place will definitely make you question your fitness. Bring your family, bring your friends Ngong hills is the place to be! I recommend Ngong hills to any traveller who happens to stop by Kenya. You have not seen Kenya yet if you have not been to these hills.

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

THE YOUNGEST HIKER YET!

HERE IS 6 YEAR OLD TATIANA AT THE FRONT

On Saturday, the 29th February, 2020 we embarked on one of the toughest hikes in Kenya. The Elephant hill hike is very challenging and it is used mostly by hikers who are training for Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. The hiker I am about to talk about is only 6 years old. Before her, the youngest person to hike the Elephant hill was 7 years old with the Human rights defenders.

WE ARE SO VERY PROUD OF THIS CHILD
BAMBOO GATE
POINT OF DESPERATION… STILL GOING STRONG!
THE TAIL

As of three days ago the Traveling Mindset is proud to shine light on the youngest hiker. Her name is Tatiana… Boys where are you at? You’ve been left behind! Anyway as I was saying we embarked on our hike at about 10:00 am and we got to the top at about 3:30 pm and believe me this is the time that the rain decided to descend with a newly found vengence.

IT RAINED AND RAINED AND RAINED!!!

We finished the hike at about 8:00 pm and Tatiana managed all the way. I would probably say that she was fitter and more resilient than even the adults. Congratulations Tatiana for making it all the way.

SOAP STONE PAINTING WITH JAMES

That’s me carving into my very first bowl.

Hello readers, I have been lost for a while haven’t I ? Well, here I am with my Saturday vibes. Guess what I did on Saturday? I went to my very first soap stone painting class. I would say that this is probably one of the best experiences I have ever had. I painted, I ate good rice and green grams, I went shopping and the best part of all I made new friends!

from the left Me(Barbara), Yolanda and Rebecca!

I decided to actually go ahead and book an experience on Airbnb. The first experience that appears on the page as fate would have it is James’ experience on learning how to paint on soapstone bowls. I promise that I was swayed by the five star rating and the images that came up on the page. It looked like an amazing thing to do, I guess what did I have to loose anyway? I boarded a matatu all the way to Kawangware from my home on waiyaki way ; this cost me about 30kshs, I then boarded a bodaboda to James’ place. Well, I admit that I was afraid of getting lost but James ensured that he gave even the bodaboda driver the directions and he also texted them to me.

Our group tryout bowl.

I got there at about 10:00 am and I was invited by James into his house where he showed me around his abode and gave me good stories as we waited for the two other visitors who were joining us. Eventually Rebecca and Yolanda joined us at about 10:30 where they were also shown around and our ‘lesson’ commenced. James told us his life story and all about how he ended up in soap stone painting and he taught us how to do the painting. we actually did all the designs and carvings by ourselves. He then eventually gave each of us our own bowls where we got busy and creative.

This is what we each came up with. Amazing right?

After our painting session James made us amazing lunch composed of fried rice and green grams. Apparently he’s got skills in the kitchen as well. Magnificent food! After lunch we eventually decided to head to Maasai Market where I discovered my amazing bargaining power. Who knows maybe I can make it a career? We eventually said our goodbyes and parted ways. Best Saturday ever!

At Maasai Market, we stopped for a mini photo session

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

THE TYPES OF VISAS

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An entry in a passport that allows you to enter a foreign country legally.

All travelers may at some point require a Visa to travel and cross borders into other countries. And many of us have maybe fallen victim because our local travel agents may not have explained to us what we need to do in order to get a visa. Or maybe you even just want to deal with your travel plans by yourself. Who knows?

If you are a frequent traveler you will realize that you may not require a visa to certain countries. Most times When crossing continents you will discover that you indeed do require a visa. For example a person traveling from England to Kenya will require a visa but a Ugandan traveling to Kenya will not and vice versa.

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As travelers we may not be sure what kind of visa we are supposed to obtain. So, let’s start slow… there are many different types of visas for different kinds of people. I will mention them here:

a) The work visa

This visa allows the bearer to take on employment or engage in business activities in the host country.

b) The student visa

This visa allows the bearer to enrol in a post-secondary education institution in the host country.

c) The transit visa

It allows the bearer to enter a foreign country for leisure/ touristic stay for a predetermined amount of time.

d) The asylum visa

Also known as a refugee visa granted to individuals fleeing war, natural disasters and other situations where their life may be at risk.

e) The business visa

This visa allows the bearer to engage in business activities without particularly joining the host country’s work force/ labor market.

f) The spousal visa

When couples do not live in the same country this visa allows you to visit your spouse.

g) The working holiday visa

This visa allows the bearer to undertake temporary employment in the host country for their traveling period.

h) The evisa

This visa is an electronic visa that is stored in a database rather than being stamped in the passport.

i) The immigrant visa

This visa allows the bearer to permanently reside in the host country.

j) The nonimmigrant visa

This visa allows the bearer to enter the host country on a temporary basis.

k) The schengen visa

This visa allows the bearer to have a short stay allowing its holder to circulate within the Schengen area(covers 26 countries). These states are; Austria, Belgium, Czech republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. This visas are issued by the schengen states and intended stay should be no more than 90 days in any 180 days of period.

l) The type O visa

In the Us this visa is offered to those with extraordinary ability in science, arts, business, athletics or extraordinary achievement in motion pictures and television production.

m) The type P visa

This visa is offered to athletes, entertainer’s artist and essential support personnel who come to perform in the United states.

n) The type Q visa

This visa is required for those who are traveling to participate in international cultural exchange programs in the United states for the purpose of providing training, employment, sharing history culture and traditions of their home country.

o) The exchange visitor visa

The bearer of this visa is allowed to go to the United states to participate in exchange programs.( students, teachers, professors, research scholars, professional trainees, and visitors coming for travel, consultation and research purposes)

p) The religious worker visa

This visa allows those who are authorised by a recognised entity to conduct religious activity in the United states.

q) The domestic employee visa

This visa is elligible to domestic workers who accompany their employers to the US.

r) The media/ journalist visa

Journalists or media personnel from foreign countries are elligible to attain this visa for a temporary period to engage in their profession. They must however, have a home office in a foreign country.

s)The ship crew visa

This visa is offered to ship crew that will be crossing over to international water.

The next time you are preparing for travel at least you will know what kind of visa you need to acquire.

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

WORLD PANGOLIN DAY

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Today is the day folks that we celebrate the most trafficked animal in the world. Sad right? Have we all come across pangolins? Have you seen them on the internet? Have you seen them in person? Maybe? Maybe not? Pangolins my dear friends are the scaly ant eating legends with long nails. I hope that I have given you a rough idea about what they look like.

Why do these animals get trafficked? Well, I’ll tell you just like any other trafficked animal; their scales are used by the Chinese to make ‘medicine’. Today as we celebrate these animals that are desperately in need of help from all of us as a planet. we need to tell everyone who will listen why we need to change the mindset of all these people.

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SEE WHY I SAID WORLD’S MOST TRAFFICKED?

Of the 100% trafficked animals, pangolins make the 20%. Now, i just wonder… How many people who have bought medicine made from the scales of these animals have been healed? They are now accused of being responsible for carrying the corona virus. I wonder if this disease will save them from being used to make medicine and will stop their trafficking? Only time will tell. We at the Traveling Mindset value all animals and we will continue to tell everyone about the importance of biodiversity.

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Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

HUNTING AUCTIONS

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JUST FROM THE TAP OF A BUTTON

Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, Leopards and even Buffalos have been subject to hunting since time immemorial, more often now than ever. Our wildlife is under attack; the big five are dying due to human error. We have to stand up for our animals. Our tall beauties- the giraffes have also been victims to this greedy hunt trade.

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Can you believe it? Just by the tap of a button, you can actually place a bid to hunt poor defenseless animals. I don’t know about you; but this does not sit well with me. Recently Botswana lifted its ban to hunt elephants again. An auction firm actually sold tickets to hunt 70 elephants. 70 elephants! Can you believe this? They actually put up 200 elephants for sale!

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MAJESTIC CREATURES AT THE MERCY OF HUMANS

The number of animals hunted everyday is on the rise especially in Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana & South Africa), Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Their Eastern African counterparts mostly condemn all hunting practices, they are however, dealing with the issue of poaching.

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Hunting; a sport that is treacherous and torturous to animals. Have we not heard of hunting using guns, and even worse have we not heard of lion caned hunting? How much more pain do these poor animals have to bear for their salvation. It is so sad that the very people who should be living in harmony with animals are the ones actually harming them. When will enough be enough? All these animal auction firms should be closed I believe.

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ANIMALS FEEL PAIN TOO.

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY SANCTUARY

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Oh my I love butterflies so much. They’re beautiful and they make me feel like I am at peace. They are also known to represent change! Did you know that butterflies taste with their feet. 56 Million years; that’s how long butterflies have been on Earth. Importance of butterflies? Well, besides their beauty they are important pollination agents. Butterflies work hand in hand with bees to spread seeds which grow wildflowers. I mean who doesn’t like wild flowers.

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On this amazing Wednesday, we dive into Mexico where we find the beautiful butterfly sanctuary. The Monarch butterfly sanctuary is a safe Haven for these amazing creatures of change. In October, these butterflies actually cluster together in the pine, Eucalyptus and cypress trees. This town has been nicknamed- the Butterfly town. How amazing is that?

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About a week ago a second Mexican environmentalist-Raul Hernandez protecting the sanctuary was found dead. The manner of his death was clearly not an accident. This was a month after the disappearance of another activist Homero Gomez who was campaigning against illegal logging in the sanctuary. My heart goes out to the families of all those who have been killed because of protecting this butterfly sanctuary.

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Homero Gomez

I don’t know how to say this… Well, I’ll just go right out and say it. How much is the life of a butterfly worth? How much is the life of these two conservationists worth? This is a vile era where other humans can kill their own just for profit. But we must not stop advocating for our nature. We are nature’s voice!

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Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

WORLD’S DEADLIEST SNAKES: HOW TO PREVENT BITES.

There are 600 species of venomous snakes in the world. well, the good news is that only 200 can do real damage to humans according to the World Health Organization. below are the nine deadliest;

9. The black mamba

Black or black-mouthed mamba, I think most of us have heard or seen this snake before. it seems to be very fond of termite mounds. It ranges in color from gray- the one I have encountered to brown. It gets its name from the color inside its mouth. it is large and quick with highly potent venom that kills most of its human victims. Despite its aggressive reputation, unprovoked attacks on humans have not been proved.

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recognize the black mouth?

8. The barba amarilla

Commonly known as the yellow chin snake. it is an aggressive snake that often enters human living spaces. The venom of this snake is necrotizing, painful and often deadly.

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yellow or brown the patterns and the yellow chin do not lie.

7. Boomslang snake

Its name is quick a mouthful. This is one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa, it is also a rear fanged snake. It is known for chewing on to its victim until the victim succumbs to the toxins.

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It can be green or white- check out the patterns on its back.

6. The tiger snake

Also known as the quintessential Australian cobra. The name just makes me quiver in fear. This is the most widely distributed type of tiger snake. As it prepares to strike, it will flatten its head in a similar manner to the Asian and African cobras. they can cause severe envenomation which will cause renal damage and failure, Muscle damage and defibrination with blood that does not clot.

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This snake comes in many colors, the distinguishing feature is the stripes.

5. The mass killer

I decided to call this guy the mass killer because it kills more people than any other snake. It may be the deadliest of all snakes. It is responsible for more humans deaths than any other snake species combined. Its venom is lethal in less than 10% of untreated victims. due to its aggressiveness it bites often and early.

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Again the saw scaled viper comes in many colors-watch out for the body patterns.

4. The branded krait

I am very dangerous and I have a triangular- shaped cross section, who am I? This snake is a highly venomous relative of the cobra. well, basically all snakes are relatives. But we are especially giving this guy relations with the cobra due to the paralysis its bite induces.

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This guy comes in many colors even white- watch out for the black triangular cross-sections.

3. The longest venomous snake

The bite of this snake will deliver neurotoxins into the victims that will result into paralysis. the venom is so strong that it can kill an elephant in a few hours. imagine what it can do to a human if untreated? well, here’s what… 60% of untreated cases result to death in humans. The name of this guy, ‘the king cobra.’

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A cannibal with deadly venom.

2. The Coastal Taipan

This is the largest relative to the cobra in Australia. It produces venom similar to its inland cousin(the inland taipan). Its bite is always lethal to 80% of its untreated cases. So this guy is actually known for biting its victims and allowing them to stagger away.

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Almost looks like its cousin but this one is a lighter brown.

1.The snake with the world’s deadliest venom

The bite of this snake will deliver a witch’s brew of toxins. Its venom will inhibit breathing, paralyze muscles, damage muscles and cause the hemorrhaging in blood vessels and tissues. It’s name is, ‘Inland Taipan.’

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Brownish skin and yellow underbelly

Here comes the real question. How do we prevent a bite from these Snakes? How many times have we heard something like, ‘pet snake kills new born baby,’ and these sad stories? Below are the tips on how to prevent snake bites in the first place.

Do not try to handle any snake( snakes are not pets; they belong in the wild)

Avoid climbing rocks/ piles of wood where a snake may be hiding.

Stay away from tall grass and piles of leaves.

Be aware (Snakes tend to be active at night/ during warm weather).

Wear boots and long pants when you are outdoors.

Wear leather gloves when handling brush/ debris.

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

SNAKE BITES

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I know you are wondering why I have decided to talk about snake bites today. Well, this is why… When you travel or are on safari, even in your house it is highly possible to encounter these ‘fangy guys’. Who are the people who have most snake bites? Hikers or even forest trekkers. Today, I basically want to teach you how you can deal with a snake bite. Just talking about snakes gives me the creeps but oh well that’s biodiversity for me.

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JUST TO UNDERSTAND HOW FANGS WORK.

First of all not all snakes are dangerous to us. Believe it or not only 20% of the snakes in the world are poisonous. In the next article I will talk about the world’s deadliest snakes. In this day and age I believe that we should not be losing our loved ones to poison. 5.4 Million- that is how many people are bitten by snakes every year and even worse; 138,000 of these people die and 400,000 are left disabled. With this article I am hoping to cut this number into half.

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Well then let’s begin.

  1. How do you know that someone has been bitten by a snake?

The most common symptoms of snake bites would be (RPSB)- Redness, Pain, Swelling and Bruising an abbreviation that I have created to just make the symptoms memorable. Watch out for these symptoms so that you can help the victim immediately.

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RPBS

2. Here’s what to do.

Get a good look at the snake

Different snakes sometimes have different antidotes. If you get a good look at the snake when you get to the hospital you can describe the snake and be tended to quickly.

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IS IT A COBRA OR A VIPER?

Remain still and calm to slow down the venom.

By remaining still or lying down we literally lower our blood pressure. but in this case lying down does not apply and staying still does. Why? Because we need to keep the bite below the heart level. Since blood pressure is lower, it will take a longer time for the venom to circulate.

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Cover the wound with clean dressing

Just like any other wound, a clean bandage should be used to cover this snake bite to prevent further infections to the bitten area. If you don’t have access to a bandage you can use a clean cloth and just cover the wound.

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Remove any tight clothing and jewelry before you start to swell

Snake bites will usually cause the victim to swell in the affected area so that’s why you need to make sure that the jewelry and tight clothing so that these do not bring more problems later on.

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Position yourself, so that the bite is below the heart level

Let the victim lie in a semi-reclined position with the wound below the heart level. This means lowering your bite wound. See the picture below.

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3. Don’t do this

  • Don’t use a tourniquet or apply ice.
  • Don’t cut the wound or attempt to remove the venom.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol, which could speed your body’s absorption of venom.
  • Don’t try to capture the snake. Try to remember its color and shape so that you can describe it, which will help in your treatment. If you have a smartphone with you and it won’t delay your getting help, take a picture of the snake from a safe distance to help with identification

Best way to avoid treating snake wounds is to avoid being bitten in the first place. In next weeks article we will look at the world’s most dangerous snakes and how to prevent being bitten by them.

Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

ACCESSIBLE TOURS

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Ever heard of the term, ‘disability is not inability?’ Words of encouragement, almost always given by those who perceive that people with physical challenges are helpless and cannot ably do things without physical challenges effortlessly. Ever seen disabled people participating in hardcore sporting activities?

Well, I have and let me say this disabled people want to do the things that other tourists do. They want to see the great wall of China, they want to be atop the empire state building, they want to hike the Elephant hills and the Kilimanjaro. The only problem is getting there hence the accessible tours. Is a ramp needed or a guide to hold the hand of a blind tourist?

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The question is, ‘how can these tours be accessed?’ First of all, you can coordinate with a tour or travel company and confirm from their website if they actually do accessible tours. Second, you can get a guide that actually deals with people who would like to go to tours but due to the impaired vision or hearing, speech or even being on a wheel chair would often need guides on the ground who can physically be with them on the tours.

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I think this is an area that has been neglected by many travel agencies and that all travel companies need to have accessible tours. Many disabled people have been duped into believing that some tour companies offer accessible tours yet they do not. They get to the tours only to receive a shock that arrangements for them were not made. there is no ramp to get into the tour van, there is no guide to deal with any issues that they may encounter and the worst of all, there is no refund yet you have suffered on the so called ‘accessible tour’. Before traveling, always ensure that you have all the information.

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Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.