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Comoros: A walk past the "Cloud-Coup-Coup Land"

Why visit one of the least visited countries in the world?

Comoros: A walk past the "Cloud-Coup-Coup Land" is written by Lene Kohlhoff Rasmussen

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One of the least visited countries in the world

Experience the Comoros to experience one of the least visited countries in the world. The country is only visited by a few travelers, just like myself, who believes that all countries in the world are worth at least one visit. Everyone else is gone. This is probably due to the fact that it is both quite difficult to get there, is furiously expensive, has incredibly poor infrastructure, is strongly religious while the country is politically unstable. But doesn't this relatively unknown country away from everything still have something exciting and unique to offer? This is exactly what I set out to investigate when I just passed the Comoros in the Indian Ocean.

At the airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar, it was relatively easy to spot which of the passengers were waiting for the plane to Mauritius and those waiting for it to the Grande Comoros. The difference could be seen in the Muslim attire and the low number of white tourists. On the plane, I was the only pale tourist and probably also the only one who spoke neither French nor the local Swahili dialect.

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Experience the Comoros: Distinctive Culture

The Grande Comoros is the largest of the three cloud-covered islands filled with insane politicians who have seized power no less than 21 times since the country's independence, giving it the nickname "Cloud-Coup-Coup Land". Back in 1843, Mayotte became the first of the islands subject to French territory, and the other three islands Grande Comoros, Moheli and Anjouan followed.

In 1974, however, the Comoros gained their independence with the removal of Mayotte, who after a referendum chose to remain French. The population of the islands is a mixture of former Arab traders, Persian sultans, African slaves and Portuguese pirates. They still eat French baguettes, are rich in Swahili culture and are strongly religious.

With that mixture, there is not a second in doubt that this is a whole unique and distinctive culture.

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Experience the Comoros with beautiful nature

I was told that if I wanted to hike up to the top of Mount Karthala, Monsieur Chaufere was the man I should talk to. The drivers turned out to be a friendly and nice person and he had complete control of the hike through rainforests and to the top of Mount Karthala.

It was not a hike I would have gone without a local guide as the road to the top went through a winding trail system in a very dense rainforest and at the same time there were no maps to follow. Mount Karthala is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and the last time it erupted was in 2006. Its ravages have left their mark on nature, but also created it.

The island would not exist if it were not for this relentless volcano that even has several human lives on its conscience. On the way up to the top you could see how the lava cut its way down through the dense rainforest, and near the top there were hundreds of burnt trees.

It was an indescribable sight to stand on the edge and look down into the huge volcanic crater at the highest point of the island kingdom (2360 meters). The hike was of two days. The first day we went up to the top and then we camped a little further down the mountain. The next day we went a little further back to Moroni, but along a not so steep route through the rainforest. If you are really lucky you will be able to see one of the rare lemurs found on the islands.

You are guaranteed not to meet any other tourists; only a few single locals picking up timber in the rainforest and a few farmers running around with their cattle in the open grasslands near the top.

After the sweaty hike, I decided to find a good beach where I could relax with a little sunbathing and get out to swim. It must therefore be on one of the private beaches belonging to the hotels, as it is neither advisable nor well-liked for a woman to go lightly dressed.

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Stranded on a deserted island

The public beaches did not look appealing either. They are filled with plastic waste and a lot of locals hanging out on the beaches and wasting time. I avoided that when I was staying in a small bungalow in Maloudja on the northern tip of the island, where I enjoyed being the only guest. In this tiny little corner of the Grande Comoros, I got the feeling of being stranded on a desert island in the middle of a beautiful tropical paradise. And imagine being so privileged that you can get a small beautiful lagoon with swaying coconut palms, chalk-white sand and azure blue water all to yourself.

After six days on the Grand Comoros, I had found three things that need not deter anyone from visiting the Comoros. On the contrary. There is a different and distinctive culture, a beautiful nature and a tropical paradise. It's just not a very easy country to travel in, nor are there any sights in droves, but it's, like all the other countries in the world, worth at least one visit.

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About the travel writer

Lene Kohlhoff Rasmussen

Lene Kohlhoff Rasmussen travels to meet new people and learn about other countries' culture, history and religion, but also to get some great personal challenges. Therefore, she travels on her own to places that are far away from the usual destinations. She will experience some of the few places in the world where mystery and adventure still exist. Read more about her adventures at www.kohlhoff.dk.

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