Apr 7

Where in the World is NavigatingNikki?

by Nikki · 5 comments

My Route Around the World

Ok people, I know it looks like I scribbled blue crayon all over a map with my eyes closed. I’ll do my best to be as detailed as possible in explaining the mess above this text. There’s  a disclaimer though: As a sincere vagabond, all plans are tentative, and most certainly will change. Take these statements with a grain of salt, know that the wind may blow me elsewhere…and probably already has.

South America 

This trip began late last year in South America. I flew to Bogota, Colombia and made my way south along the Pan-American highway, through ColombiaEcuador and Peru.  Highlights included the coffee region and pre-colombian ruins in Colombia, the worlds highest active volcano and awesome adventure sports in Ecuador, a Machu Picchu Trek, floating the Los Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca,  hiking through the worlds deepest canyon, and turtle tagging in Peru.  I looped back to Colombia via the Amazon Jungle to get home for the holidays. For that portion of the trip I included every city and site that I visited in an earlier post. I recommend exploring this portion of the trip by reading that route description, with a much clearer and detailed account of where I went.


After the New Year, I high-tailed it to South Africa  to visit my old study abroad stomping grounds, give mom a tour of a country I consider my second home, and launch my Round the World fare. Yes, South Africa is where the adventure really gets going. No turning back from here. Once my mom and I parted ways I spent a few more weeks with my newly adopted family in Johannesburg, getting my blog off the ground..which basically means I’m still here.

The cuties waiting for me at Zariki!

From here I’ll head to East Africa starting in Tanzania and making my way through the center of the country to get to Rwanda and Uganda.  While in East Africa I will volunteer in local communities to get a taste of the pleasantries of each culture. None of this has been sorted out completely, but I do know that I will put in some time at the Zariki Nursery and Primary School,  in Tanzania thanks to the help of ELiTE Inc. A couple of other HUGE to do’s on my itinerary  in Tanzania are spending a few days chilaxin in Zanzibar, swimming with whale sharks on Mafia Island, visiting Serengeti National Park, and going to at least one island inside of Lake Victoria before making my northwest towards Rwanda. I’ll a stop in Butare, Rwanda  to get a more in depth understanding of the atrocities suffered in the 1994 Genocide and its historical context before heading to the capital,  Kigali, to visit a few Memorial sites, and test my bargaining skills at the Nyabugogo market. I’ll also pay a visit to Ruhengeri,  to follow in the footsteps of Dian Fossey  tracking Susa gorilla group, the largest of the habituated gorilla groups.   From the Ugandan border with Rwanda, I’ll get another gorilla fix at the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (see below for my awesome friggin reasoning). Then I’ll head north for some rafting on the Nile River (God help me I’m insane), and visiting the Source of the Nile in Jinja. Murshison Falls and Gulu have made the list as well. Gender Equity is a big issue in Uganda, so I’ll geer my volunteer efforts here towards female-focused aid and empowering women. Kampala, Uganda will round out my East African tour before making a pit stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  for a week of debriefing, delicious coffee, and the joy of eating with my fingers with no one to tell me to stop playing with my food. Then on to India.


The Taj Mahal Photo Credit: Sid Anand

I’ll spend the next three months in India, and I predict I will get there smack dab in the middle of monsoon season. This is way too far out for me to be making concrete plans, so this is part truth, part whimsical musing of a disorganized wanderer.  I definitely want to hit the “Golden Triangle,” encompassing New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. I’ll spend two weeks to a month volunteering with a local community; where this will take place is still to be determined. After volunteering,  I’ll spend some time at an ashram learning yoga and getting my teachers certification in Rishikesh (aka, yoga city), and  travel through out the Himalayas, since it’s the least rainy part of the county during Monsoon season. As a Vipassana meditator, or “Dhamma Sister,” I’ll also serve at a Vipassana course and settle my dana for the year by giving back. I foresee some cooking classes, lots of hiking, and a couple of elephant rides happening around this time.  After a Himalayan tour,  I will head south to study a little bit more yoga in Mysore, hit the beach if it isn’t flooded, then head to Bangalore to catch my next flight to Bangkok.

Indian visas are tricky and are limited to very strict 90-day in country increments. No matter how long your visa lasts, 10 days or 10 years, you can only stay 90 days at a time. I’d love to do more, or at least finish everything on this lengthy list,  but only time will tell.

Southeast Asia

Bangkok, Thailand, will be my jump off for exploring the rest of Southeast Asia. Over the course of the next two to three months I’ll visit different cities in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos,  and Vietnam, making my way south by way of Malaysia to Singapore.  I have no idea what to expect from this part of the trip except delicious food, wonderful people and a new wardrobe. Volunteering as often as possible is a priority for me on this trip. I will fulfill my quest to serve in Southeast Asia in Cambodia. Cambodia was home to “one of the worst human tragedies of the 20th century” in the 1970’s when the Khmer Rouge government undertook policies of social engineering, resulting in genocide. In spite of its downfall, millions of mines were laid by Khmer Rouge government forces during its reign. This has led  to thousands of deaths and disabilities since the 1980s, making the rate of people with disabilities in Cambodia the highest in the world. In some way, shape, or form, I’ll work with disabled communities.

I'm going to get cupped up like Erin

In addition to serving, I’m particularly excited about recapturing the not-to-backpacker side of my fashion sense in Vietnam with custom made EVERYTHING! Magazine clippings are being packed. Thats right, I’m voguing on a backpacker budget. I’ll also put my scuba diving certification to work and get in as much diving as I can at some of the best reefs in the world. I may also try cupping therapy, and  put my two cents in on its health benefits. After a few days of fine dining and bunking with whatever expat english teacher takes me in (because there are tons of you), I’ll hop over to Indonesia for more scuba diving, and relaxation along the scattered islands on the way to Bali. Massages will become a daily ritual once I get to Bali. A girl’s gotta get ready for the tough terrain of the outback and the only way to do that is…. with massages.

South Pacific

That's right LOR fans, I'm going to Middle Earth!

From Bali I will head to Australia, overlanding the outback from the north  to the south. I’ll land in Brisbane and decide my route from there… knowing me I’ll want to see what going on in Cairns before heading south. In an ideal world, some of my wonderful friends will buck up by this time and agree to meet me here so that we can buy a cheap volkswagen camper van and see the country by car, on our own unpredictable terms. From there we’d head to  New Zealand to check the land of the Kiwis, and Lord of the Rings. In New Zealand,  we’d start on the south island of the country in Queenstown, stopping in Christchurch (the mother of adventure towns), and make our way north to Auckland. If this sounds like fun, please email me so we can get this camper and do it right! From Kiwi-Land, I’ll head to Hawaii to meet up with my number one partner in crime, my mom to go swimming with manta rays.

 Back to Africa by way of the USA and Europe

After being officially wowed, I’ll make a pit stop in Houston and New York to kiss my loved ones, then fly on to Portugal to see what all the hype is about. From Portugal I’ll skip on into the southern most tip of Spain to take a boat to Morocco…and reenact MIA’s Bad Girls video with my tall pal Chelsea. Yes Chelsea, I’m putting you on BLAST. Now you have to come.  From Morocco I’ll go to Ghana to meet with some family friends, and convince my girl Vedan to come and show me the ropes. After becoming a Ghanaian princess, I’ll head back to South Africa to round out the trip with a family reunion of sorts. Yes…I’m bringing Texans to the Motha-land…to show them what its all about. You’re welcome to come too if you like!

That pretty much concludes the planned part of the itinerary. Theres no telling what will actually happen, but rest assured, it will be interesting. On that note let me hit you with some

Parting words…




Sadie May 15, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Hope you are having a wonderful journey on your world tour. Wish you all the best. xoxoxo

Zawadi June 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm

This is awesome Nicole! Don’t forget to add DRC to your list;) Safe and EXCITING travels! I’ll stay tuned.

Jessica Gonzalez, MD October 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm

You ROCK!!! Take care and God bless you.

Parvez Khan November 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Call home ET. Your Father misses you. Went to Formula 1 in Austin today and thought about celebrating your birthday in UAE. Love you dearly.

Manish April 6, 2013 at 2:30 am

You are a good human Being, Take Care.

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