Opening Up Africa – An Interview with Gino Pop!

Hi all! I recently caught up with friend of the blog Gino Pop who recently headed to West Africa and Tanzania. Check out how he found it and what he experienced in this incredible destination!

  • Hi Gino! Thanks for stepping up again for another interview. How have you been?

Doing great brotha! Trying to stay productive one day at a time! Hope you’re been doing great as well! I know things are a little different in Australia at the moment with the lockdown and restrictions!

  • I last interviewed you over six months ago now. I believe you’ve been travelling since – please tell us where you’ve been!

Yeah, I’ve done a couple of longer trips starting in September! This was strictly dedicated to the continent of Africa, more specific Tanzania, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Sao Tome and Principe.

  • How did you find travelling in the age of Covid? What restrictions did you face? And how are the countries you visited dealing with the pandemic?

Things are definitely way more confusing at the beginning since they can change at any moment, and without being informed exactly, you can kinda get stranded. For example for a long time we thought in Romania that if you arrived from a “red” country you would be in quarantine no matter what. Well it was clear after some time into the pandemic that a negative covid test would get you out of that quarantine. This was something that was not specifically “advertised” on the news and by the authorities. It was more learned by word of mouth and personal experience. Another situation was when we visited Italy, and one unknown rule at the time was, that if you came to Italy for less than 36 hours, you didn’t need a test, neither were you quarantine. This was in September to be more exact. So, yeah, a lot of time there were more micro details that the majority of us were not aware, and travel could have been more achievable. But again, keeping these details may have been a strategy to not incentivize people to travel. As for Africa, Tanzania has zero rules besides the airport. As soon as we got out of the airport in Dar Es Saalam for example, we got pulled over by the police and one of us got asked to remove the mask in order to not induce panic in the general population. He was looking for a bribe as well. In Ghana we got tested mandatory at the airport. Not a PCR test though. The result came within 15 minutes. And IN Sao Tome, Togo and Benin there were the regular mask in public and so on but things were definitely taken quite light.

  • One of the countries you visited was the little known Sao Tome & Principe. Can you tell us a little about this country?

Sao Tome and Principe is probably top for me due to its unknown nature. Everything is raw, innocent, lush etc. Very few people actually know about Sao Tome and you kinda have to explain to them where it’s located and so on. But it’s fascinating inside and out. It’s literally like going back in time, in an era where things are simple, humble but with an exotic twist. I have not seen anywhere people so receptive to photos and videos. Barely any issues with it, only when they did their laundry at the river I would say they didn’t particularly enjoy it but I can definitely see why.  

  • Tell us about your safari experiences! Where did you go for them, what was the set up, and how were you able to shoot such amazing videos?

The safari was without a doubt the main highlight while in Tanzania. Visiting the Serengeti and Ngorongoro National Parks was something I had on my list for quite some time and it finally became a reality last year. We started in Arusha, visited the things around and then headed to Ngorongoro, followed by Serengeti and finished it in Mwanza at the shoes of Lake Victoria. We stayed in both tents and little houses, depending on the conditions. All throughout we have seen only 2 other cars in the parks so we had some leverage. All my footage was shot on my canon 5d with a 70-200mm tele and a converted of 2x. I’m assuming you’re talking about the Tanzania. The Movie episode where I had all my highlights compiled. The rest is shot either on my canon g7x or my phone. The regular vlogs that is.

  • You visited a few countries I’ve been to in West Africa. How did it differ from East Africa? And what were the highlights in that part of the continent?

You can clearly see the differences between East and West, and even between themselves in the west, based on my experiences. It’s tough to analyse as a whole but for example even if Ghana has national parks and safaris, I would never recommend it. Mole National park is deserted. For a safari, it’s East without a doubt. I touched upon people being receptive to photos. Another big difference was the way people seen others taking photos and the purpose of it. In Tanzania it was quite chill and laid back, very similar to Benin, with the exception of its capital, Porto Novo. Probably the coldest people as a whole in western Africa. But in Ghana, only up north people didn’t mind when I asked them to be photographed. In the south it was a little harder. The same it was in Togo. In Lome very few photo friendly people, while in the rural areas way better.

  • What places would you recommend and why, and which places wouldn’t you recommend and why not?

I would definitely recommend all countries to be visited. All have exceptional things about them and as well as negatives. But to be specific, I would not recommend Ghana for a safari. I would recommend Benin as a whole, it’s outstanding, especially Ganvie and Cotonou. In Togo we got stopped quite a bit by the police which made it annoying, but the same was the case in Tanzania, only there the police was clearly looking for a small 1 dollar bribe, versus Togo where they were quite aggressive all the time for some reason. By the way, I kept a count and we got stopped by the police 58 times in 2 months. Quite the achievement no doubt LOL.

  • What does someone heading to these parts of Africa need to know before they go?

Take a lot of mosquito spray and lotion. You will need it. You can definitely talk more about that since you had a “Date with malaria”. But besides that, take everything as it is, don’t overly plan everything, leave space for unknown things. Nothing runs on time so be prepared for delays. Everything is negotiable so no need to pre-plan ahead of time too much. Cash rules by the way

  • Who did you fly with and were you able to get a good deal? What were the airlines like?

We flew with multiple companies from KLM to Brussels Airlines to TAP Portugal. Everything was chill but I would say that KLM was probably the strictest out of them all. At one point we were told that we would get written up, whatever that means, if they see us one more time with our nose not covered by the mask. By know we all know how tough it is to wear a mask at all times, and it’s even harder while on an airplane, where the air is awful in the first place.

  • Please share some (or all!) of your vlogs/videos from the trip!

So far all the episodes from Tanzania are up on the channel, and I just started the series from Ghana. More to come for sure!

  • Thanks for being interviewed again Gino! Take care! Before you go – what are your plans for 2021?

My pleasure bro! Right now things are up in the air, pretty much like last year but hoping to get my trip to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe under way in April, and hopefully a quick run to Pakistan if I get my visa. Besides that nothing major. Probably a little bit of Europe this summer since I have barley visited eastern and northern Europe.

  • As always – how can people find you on social media and youtube?

Gino Pop. That’s pretty much what will take you to all of my accounts @ginopop

Thanks sir, and May the Journey Never End!

Indeed! Thanks Gino! Take care all and May the Journey Never End!

4 thoughts on “Opening Up Africa – An Interview with Gino Pop!

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