Name: Rebecca Rothney
Name of non-profit organization: Pack for a Purpose
A short travel bio: At the age of 12, I accompanied my parents to the Bahamas for a snorkeling trip. After that, I never looked back, and in the span of the last fifty years I have had the enormous good fortune and opportunity to make travel a part of my life. I have been to Africa eight times visiting six different countries, to three countries in South America, to 16 countries in Europe, and I am not done yet.
How often do you travel? I travel whenever the opportunity presents itself and the frequent flyer miles have accumulated. After our trip this June, we will have traveled to Africa eight times since 2000.
Who are your travel partner(s)? I always travel with my husband, who is a great travel companion, wonderful photographer, and, as he likes to say, “a carry-on mule at the airport.”
What type of travel do you prefer (adventure, luxury, etc.)? For the last 14 years, my husband and I have been focused on travel involving natural places, because, being 63, we know that the environment is dramatically changing. Being older, I know that the ocean I snorkeled in at 14 is no longer available in many places to 14-year-olds today.
How many countries have you visited? 45 countries and all seven continents
What’s your most memorable travel experience? It was amazing to bring two stethoscopes to a clinic in Kenya that had none and to see the joy on a principal’s face when we brought rulers to a school in Botswana where there were no rulers. And, watching the blue light pulsing from the heart of icebergs in Antarctica was breathtaking and magical when my husband and I were married there. Watching two small lion cubs in the Masai Mara cross a stream for the first time to meet up with their mother was both heartwarming and hysterically funny. Having been fortunate enough to travel for most of my life, it is simply impossible to choose one experience.
What is Pack for a Purpose? Pack for a Purpose is a non-profit, based in Raleigh, NC, that makes it easy for global travelers to donate much needed supplies to the local communities they plan to visit. Pack for a Purpose provides online lists of requested items and more than 300 global collection points in over 45 countries, making it simple for travelers to make a difference on every trip. By simply adding a few medical supplies, school supplies or sports equipments in their luggage, these travelers have made a big impact.
Why did you start Pack for a Purpose? I believe that people want to help if they can find an effective and meaningful way to do so. I was also brought up with the expectation that you always bring a hostess gift to say thank you for someone’s hospitality. Taking these two ideas in hand, my amazing team of volunteers and I created the website so that travellers could easily make a big impact whenever they travel. The response has been rewarding.
Tell us about Pack for a Purpose lodgings: All Pack for a Purpose participants, whether lodgings or tour companies, are supporting projects that assist the local community. Each participant could support one project or several. We have high-end luxury accommodations, budget backpacking options and homestays on our website. With some participants, you can even buy supplies locally, depending on what they say on their needs list page.
You have a worldwide partner network. Are most companies / hotels fairly open to being a partner or does it take a lot of explaining? We have created the website so it is very easy for lodgings and tour companies to apply on their own, and this happens on a frequent basis. When we send an invitation to a potential new lodging or tour company found through research or other connections, they are usually very receptive to joining.
What supplies are most in-demand around the world? There is no accurate way to answer this because it really does depend on the project. One size does not fit all, so we work diligently with the local community project to make sure the current and exact needs are listed on the website. Sanitary napkins are a great need in many parts of the developing world as are simple medicines like aspirin and vitamins.
And, last question: What does your suitcase look like when you travel? Usually we travel with just a carry-on duffel because we use any checked luggage we have to take supplies with us. As three of us are going to Zambia in a few weeks, here is a photo of that luggage.
The Kingdom of Morocco is one of the most authentic countries you’ll ever encounter. It is one of those travel destinations that will exceed the expectations of even the most demanding travelers.
First things first: Getting there
Most international flights to Morocco land in Casablanca. If you fly from Madrid, you will have a chance to see the Gibraltar Strait; a spectacular scene of two continents.
How much time is needed to visit Morocco? We spent two very active weeks exploring the country and although we took advantage of every minute of the day, we still missed some important areas.
But we were able to cover must-see historical areas as well as some beautiful coastal towns of Morocco.
Once you land in Casablanca, I will strongly recommend heading to Rabat (the capital of Morocco) to start your trip. It is only 55 miles northeast of Casablanca and offers a great introduction to the history of Morocco.
The main places to visit in Rabat are Old Town, the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V, Hassan Tower, the Archeological Museum, and the Royal Cemetery in Chellah.
The Mausoleum of King Mohammed V is a beautiful architectural masterpiece from the Alaouite Dynasty.
The elegant building contains the tombs of King Mohammed V and his two sons: King Hassan II and Prince Abdullah (see photo).
Across from the Mausoleum, as you pass by the Yacoub al-Mansour esplanade, you will find the Hassan Tower. Construction began on this minaret in 1195, but was left incomplete in 1199 after the death of Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour.
Just 30 minutes from downtown Rabat is the Royal Cemetery in Chellah. You know you have reached your destination the moment you see its fortress-like entrance surrounded by a long wall.
The Royal Cemetery houses historic ruins that used to be structures from the 12th century. There are also a great number of gardens and monuments, as well as the tombs of sultans from the 14th century.
From Rabat you can drive back to Casablanca. Today, this urban city doesn’t look remotely close to the one presented in the classic movie “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Casablanca is actually the second largest city on the African continent after Cairo, Egypt. Its modern districts with department stores and chic cafés, plus the sight of luxurious cars driving on the main avenues reveal that some Moroccans still live like sultans.
Despite being a bit noisy and full of traffic, Casablanca is well worth a visit.
Here you’ll find one of the most iconic landmarks of Morocco– the Hassan II Mosque, the largest on the continent. This impressive structure also houses the world’s tallest minaret standing 689 feet high (see photo).
The construction of this remarkable mosque cost US$750 million and was built to celebrate the 60th birthday of King Hassan II.
If you love nightlife, Casablanca has all types of dance clubs, fine dining, and live-music bars. For great music and good food, I recommend La Bodega; it is a popular spot to see and be seen.
About a two-hour drive south of Casablanca, you can’t miss the picturesque town of Marrakech. This is where you can browse the world famous market square of Jemaa el Fna, which has been a central trading post for hundreds of years.
Today, tourists brush up on their bargaining skills as they shop for uniquely Moroccan souvenirs.
Negotiation is expected, so being strong and firm as you bargain will earn you the respect of the local merchants. After all, they will never sell you anything at a loss.
Some of the traditional crafts you can find are furniture, fine rugs, paintings, wooden carved figures, leather goods, pillows, and a huge variety of jewelry.
Back at the main square take a few minutes to enjoy a fresh squeezed orange juice from the multiple stands. They’re all numbered and I highly recommend stand #8.
In the market, there are plenty of restaurants offering delicious Moroccan cuisine, including dishes like Tagine and Cous-cous.
Don’t forget to order an appetizer with delicious regional olives along with a local red wine. The wine region of Meknes produces excellent wines and exports all over the world.
After Marrakech, we headed west to the coastal city of Essaouira, which is about a two-hour drive. Formerly known as Mogador, Essaouira is a white and blue medina that enjoys a cool breeze and an average temperature of 77 ºF.
Historically, Essaouira has been an important seaport ever since the Carthaginian explorer Hanno established a commercial port around 500 BC. In addition, the active trading of the Phoenicians on the west coast of Africa increased its importance.
But later, and as the Arabs developed Essaouira into an important commercial port bringing wealth to the region, battles were fought.
The Portuguese occupied the city and built a fort in the 16th century but Essaouria was later recovered by the Arabs. The fort is well preserved to this day and the canons serve as witnesses of Essaouira’s historical past.
Today Essaouira is a very friendly and welcoming city offering visitors relaxing beaches and great shopping.
Strolling through the narrow streets of Essaouira is the best way to explore this charming town.
The colorful merchandise from the street vendors blends with the white and blue facades on the old buildings. Friendly smiles from the locals will brighten your day.
After a busy day walking around town, enjoy a Moroccan tea on the main square. Listen carefully and you might hear bands playing antique musical instruments.
On your way back to Casablanca, Al-Jadida makes a great stopping point for lunch. It’s another gorgeous coastal town with a long beach and a variety of fine Moroccan and international restaurants.
It’s no surprise why so many prominent Moroccan business people and politicians have their summer homes here.
Our trip to Morocco has been one of the best and I’m sure you’ll have a great time visiting this magnificent country.
Next time we return, places like Fez, Tangier, and an excursion to the Atlas Mountains are on our must-see list!
With a population of over 3 million people, the capital of Kenya is one of the largest and most important cities on the African Continent.
Today Nairobi is a modern city and a political and financial center in Africa. The Nairobi Stock Exchange is one of the largest in Africa and Nairobi is home to organizations like the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Office in Africa.
Safari Parks and Game Reserves
Although the best Safari parks in Kenya are a few hours away from Nairobi, the oldest one is just 20 minutes from the city center. The Nairobi National Park is home to zebras, lions, giraffes, rhinos, cheetahs, wildebeests, buffaloes, and more.
In downtown Nairobi you can find many tour operators offering packages to the main safari parks in Kenya. The most important to visit are the Masai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Tsavo National Park, and Lake Nakuru.
If you are looking for a unique place to have dinner in Nairobi, you must try the all-you-can-eat extravaganza at the world famous Carnivore. Not only is the Carnivore a fantastic option for meat eaters, but vegetarians will find the best salad buffet in Kenya.
Have you visited Nairobi? Comment here and let us know about your experience.
The Mausoleum of Moroccan King Mohammed V is a masterpiece monument located in the royal Yacoub al-Mansour esplanade, opposite to the Hassan Tower in Rabat, Morocco.
Positioned in the center of the elegant interior is the tomb of King Mohammed V, the first King of Morocco after the country obtained its independence from France in the late 1950’s.
The Mausoleum also contains the tombs of the King’s two sons, the late King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah.