Welcome, one and all, to the 2023 edition of my blogging year in review! Every year since 2016, I have written a monthly recap of all the wonderful adventures I had during the year. It may seem weird, but I often go back to read these reviews, as I do many of my other blog posts, and it gives me so much joy to reminisce on past adventures.
Last year was a wonderfully fulfilling year of travel. It was filled with numerous hiking adventures and quality time spent with friends and family. I went on several solo adventures and also enjoyed travelling with Mark; I had a few work-related travels, some quick weekend excursions, and many slow travel days.
As I recap a year well spent, I feel immensely grateful for these opportunities to explore different parts of the world despite the challenges that come with travelling with a Nigerian Passport. I look forward to an equally fulfilling year of wanderings this year!
a note of thanks!
Before getting into this 2023 year in review details, I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone who has visited this blog over the past few years. Thank you for reading, commenting and following my adventures around the world!
I hope that they have helped you plan yours out, or at least inspired you to visit some of these places!
What's Covered in this Post
The 2023 Month-by-Month Adventures on Travel with a Pen!
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the year in review!
January – Kuwait & Kenya: Kisumu
For the second year in a row, I began the year 2023 with a work trip to Kuwait. I’ve been lucky with my trips to this country as they have both fallen between December and January, which are considered some of the best months to visit.
Unlike my previous visit, this one was more laid back and there were no hectic commute and work schedules. In fact there was no commute at all. The company put me up in the beautiful Hilton Kuwait Resort, the same location for my project and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there.
The location was fantastic, the meals were excellent and most importantly, I received excellent feedback from our clients, which I am very proud about.
When I returned from Kuwait, Mark and I honoured an invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of new Peace Corps volunteers in Kisumu, Kenya. The visit ended with dinner, drinks and a most gorgeous sunset on the banks of Lake Victoria.
Trip Planning Resources
Book your accommodation: Find accommodation options for any budget on Booking.com
Purchase Travel Insurance: I use SafetyWing for both my travel and visa application needs
February – Singapore, Malaysia
In February 2023, I took my first solo trip of the year to Singapore and Malaysia. As with my previous visit to the region last year, I enjoyed the feeling of orderliness and safety in Singapore. Of course, the sites were beautiful too and the blended cuisine was splendid.
Being a small country, it was easy to have a wholesome experience in a short amount of time. Still, there were a few things I ended up not experiencing, like the impressive indoor waterfall at Changi Airport. As a result, I am hoping to revisit the country, or at least transit through in the future to see this for myself.
After my time in Singapore, I headed to Malaysia to spend a few days in the country before returning home. Due to an unfortunate event at the border, this country is not one I remember with much fondness. Nevertheless, my time in Kuala Lumpur was not all bad.
As soon as I was able to get over the border incident, I enjoyed visiting the beautiful sites and buildings in the city. I even found many of the locals to be warm and friendly.
PS: The last time I checked, the Malaysian Government website now states clearly that Nigerians are not allowed to enter through the land borders. Therefore, if you choose to visit these two countries, i.e. Singapore and Malaysia, flying into Malaysia first is the way to go.
March – Kenya: Safari and the Beach
Next, in March 2023, we had the pleasure of hosting Mark’s parents in Kenya for a few weeks. During this visit, we curated an itinerary to share some of our best destinations with them.
The trip started at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki, where we spent two wonderful days before making our way to Ol Pejeta. There, we stayed at the Sweetwater Tented Camp located inside the park. From the lodging, we watched elephants, zebras, and rhinos visit the watering hole.
It was pretty incredible. We also enjoyed short safaris within the park, and later, in Naivasha, where we spent the night on Crescent Island.
Also in March, I revisited the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi and finally made it down to the Nairobi National Museum, after procrastinating this visit for several months.
After a few months of travelling, I was grateful to have a slow April. I caught up with friends in Nairobi and some who were visiting and enjoyed walks in Karura Forest with Mark and Blue.
May – Egypt: Cairo
May kickstarted a 3-month work rotation for me in Egypt and I was excited to be revisiting the country after five years. I revisited the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx complex twice during my first rotation and wrote about the best way to do so in this article.
I also took tours to Khan-el Khalili and several other places in the city. I wrote about 19 of these places in this post.
In June, I returned to Cairo for another stint, the end of which coincided with a week-long public holiday. My first ever visit to Egypt in 2018 was also in June and I spent the holidays visiting Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel and Sharm el Sheikh.
June – Egypt & Lebanon
This time, I opted to explore somewhere outside the country and Lebanon was the perfect destination, as it required no detailed planning and advance visa application.
At the time of my visit, and of this writing, Lebanon offers a conditional visa on arrival to Nigerians for as low as $2! I booked a cheap flight from Cairo to Beirut and spent seven days exploring parts of the country.
I loved spending time in Beirut and visiting the old towns and beaches in Batroun and Byblos. This was one of the best destinations I visited in 2023, in that I expected and paid relatively little for the experience and received maximum returns.
2023 The Year in Review: July
In July, I returned to Cairo for the last month of my rotation. I spent most of my free time relaxing at the hotel in Zamalek and just walking around the area.
After my project was done, I returned to Nairobi in time to join Mark on a trip to Rwanda to participate in the 2023 edition of the Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Gisenyi.
August 2023 – Rwanda: Gisenyi and the Ironman 70.3
This was my second visit to the country. Mark and I had visited previously the year before for the same reasons. We extended our stay then to go gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. This time around, it was a short but sweet visit to the Lake Kivu area.
It was even ‘sweeter’ because Mark completed his race! I was (and am) incredibly proud of him as he put a lot of effort into training for this and came back stronger after the incident in the last race.
Honestly, I aspire to have this sort of willpower and determination towards achieving my goals this year!
Later in the month, we headed to the US to spend some time with Mark’s brother in Seattle before travelling down to Glacier National Park for an adventure of a lifetime!
2023 The Year in Review: September – USA
From Late August into September, Mark and I spent two weeks hiking and camping in Glacier National Park alongside six companions. This trip was characterized by beautiful landscapes and alpine lakes, stunning sunsets and incredible wildlife sightings!
Most of our time was spent in the backcountry, away from any form of civilization. We got up each morning and hiked for hours, punctuating these moments with lunch and snack breaks against stunning backdrops.
Although tough in the beginning to adapt to, it was just the reset I needed for the year. If I were to rank my trips for the most unique ones taken in 2023, this would take first place!
2023 The Year in Review: October – Kenya
We spent the rest of September and October between Nairobi and Naivasha, revisiting Naivasha, Crescent Island and Mount Longonot with family visiting Kenya.
I love visiting Naivasha, so it was great to get the opportunity to return during the year.
November – Japan, Qatar
Then in November, I took another solo trip to Japan, which is a country I often refer to on this blog as “my favourite country I have never been to”.
I had very high expectations for Japan and the country surpassed every one of them! It’s hard dealing with “expectations vs reality” when visiting one’s dream country but somehow, everything worked out just right in Japan.
Over 16 days, I explored multiple cities, visited several beautiful sites and had wonderful cultural experiences. I hope to return to visit lesser-known sites with Mark shortly.
PS: You can expect to see more posts about Japan this year!
On my return journey from Japan, I had a long layover in Doha, Qatar and opted to leave the airport to explore parts of the city. Usually, I find myself stuck at the airport when I have layovers such as this, but luckily, I was able to get a visa to enter Qatar quite easily.
My layover tour was fast-paced and covered many sites; I wrote about how I spent my time here. If I revisit Doha, I’d allocate more than 9hours in the city and explore at a much slower pace. Still, I think the tour was worth it and time well spent and I’m glad I got to do it.
December – Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary
Finally, Christmas came early for me in December when I received my German (Schengen) visa three days before!
We travelled just in time to spend Christmas with my sister in Berlin and enjoy the beautiful and magical Christmas markets all over the city.
This was a new experience for me and despite having a strong dislike for cold weather, I enjoyed seeing it snow in Berlin, drinking delicious mulled wine, and admiring the beautiful architecture and the festive atmosphere all around us.
As part of this trip, we extended our stay in the region to visit other countries close by, including Czechia, Austria and Hungary. I will be writing more about this trip and places later in the year. I hope you stick around!
Thank you once again for following travel adventures in 2023! I hope 2024 only brings us wonderful things in every aspect of our lives. Please share your 2023 highlights and 2024 travel wish list with me in the comment section below! I always love reading your comments and I wish you a happy new year!
Happy New Year!