Desert - Egypt - Travel photography by © Lola Akinmade Åkerström
I’ve been wanting to participate in OneBrownGirl’s Traveling Brown Girls Blog Carnival for the longest time. It’s a fantastic support network for fellow travel bloggers of color and a fun platform for sharing and promoting each other’s work. The last few months have had me digging out of emails, work deadlines, projects, and other commitments with travels thrown in there. Finally, the air is clearing up a bit.

I love this carnival’s theme hosted by BrownGirlsFly.

As travelers, our “I wanna go there!” list never ends. It seems the last destination we explored wasn’t enough. We want to see the next place. To top the last experience.

To go, go, go, and see, see, see.

Why I love this theme of places I haven’t been and why is because it’s forcing me to explain why I want to go to a place. Not to just check it off some arbitrary list but what about the place draws and pulls me towards it?

Why do I want to invest in that place?

Here are just five places I want to explore and get beneath.


Mongolia fascinates me in so many ways. From nomadic lifestyles and other cultural traditions to just how photogenic native Mongolians are. Those beautiful high cheekbones. As a photographer who is primarily drawn to people and environmental portraits, I would love to spend at least two weeks there learning what I can absorb about the culture, getting to know people deeper, and hopefully coming away with some memorable portraits.


Mozambique is one of those countries that was always fun to pronounce as a teenager. What started as a “funny-sounding” name turned into a mild obsession. Of all the countries in Africa, Mozambique (and Namibia!) keeps pulling me to it. Its natural resources, national parks, game reserves, proximity to crisp clean waters of the Indian Ocean. While I’m more a mountain person than I am a beach person, I can imagine myself lounging for hours on one of its many beaches eating freshly caught and grilled fish made by local fishermen. Spend hours talking to them, learning about their lives, maybe taking some memorable photos.


Southeast Asian cuisine is my kryptonite. I don’t know what it is about the combination of sweet basil and chili or coriander and garlic that just turns me into goo. The country used to be an historic spice route and so with Malaysia, I definitely want to explore it by eating my way through the entire country. Its multi-ethnic cuisine inspired by Thai, Chinese, Indian, and other Southeast Asian flavors means it is richly complex, diverse, and decadent.


UPDATE – I explored Montenegro in 2013 and even had a photo essay about it in National Geographic Traveller.

My draw to the Balkans seems merely superficial. I’ve yet to see a bad landscape picture from the region and as a photographer, I want to explore it through my lens. More importantly, talk about a richly complex and dark history with bright glimmers of hope and that ever enduring story of survival. I do have friends mostly from Croatia and parts of the former Yugoslavia, and their personal stories and family histories intrigue me. After following Grantourismo Travels’ excellent dispatches from Kotor, Montenegro, there’s something resilient yet delicate (in a good way) about that country and I want to experience it myself.


Those who know me well know that I’m not the biggest fan of lemurs. Yes, those furry creatures with yellow bug-eyes that hop along on two feet. Click on the link and you’ll understand why they’re not my cup of tea.

I’d love to go to Madagascar to confront my fears once and for all.

What are some places you’re aching to explore? Please share below. It’s also coincidental that all my countries begin with the letter “M”.

Check out other travel lists in our carnival

Blog:  Brown Girls Fly (Chelle and Crystal)
Twitter:  @BrownGirlsFly
Carnival Post:  5 Places we have never been and why we must go 


Blog:  One Brown Girl  (Tracey Friley)
Twitter:  @OneBrownGirl
Carnival Post:   Five Places Calling My Name


Blog:  Lola Akinmade (Lola Akinmade-Åkerström)
Twitter:  @LolaAkinmade
Carnival Post:   Five Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I Want To Go)


Blog:  Mom’s Guide To Travel   (Tawanna Browne Smith)
Twitter:  @WorldTravelMom
Carnival Post:   Travel Bucket List: 5 Places I’ve Never Been And Would Like To Go


Blog:  Inside Journeys  (Marcia M)
Twitter:  @InsideJourneys
Carnival Post:   5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I Want To Go)


Blog:  Me & My Passport (Natalie)
Twitter:  @me_n_mypassport
Carnival Post:  
5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I Want To Go)


Blog:  A Day In Your Shoes (Lisa Lightner)
Twitter:  @LisaLightnerLL
Carnival Post:  Our Travel Bucket List – Traveling With A Child With Special Needs


Blog:  Traveling Latina (Ana Serafin)
Twitter:  @travelinglatina
Carnival Post:  5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I Want To Go)


Blog:  Globetrotting Mama (Heather Greenwood Davis)
Twitter:  @GreenwoodDavis
Carnival Post:  5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Want To Go To Now)


Blog:  Travel With Eva (Eva Jordan-Johnson)
Twitter:  @TravelWithEva
Carnival Post:  5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I Want To Go)


Blog:  The Ski Chi Travel Guide 2 (Janice Temple)
Twitter:  @skychi_travels
Carnival Post:  5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I Want To Go)


Blog:  This Diva Travels (Aliah)
Twitter:  @ThisDivaTravels
Carnival Post:  I Want To Go To There: 5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I HAVE To Go)


Blog:  Robins Have Wings (Robin Bennefield)
Twitter:  @RobinsHaveWings
Carnival Post:  5 Places On My Travel Bucket List … For Now


Blog:  Oneika The Traveller (Oneika Raymond)
Twitter:  @oneikatraveller
Carnival Post:  5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I Want To Go)


Blog:  Wonderlusting (Lynda Daboh)
Twitter:  @LyndaDaboh
Carnival Post:  Travel: 5 Places I’ve Never Been (And Why I Want To Go)


Blog:  Girl Gone Travel(Carol Cain)
Twitter:  @CarolACain
Carnival Post:  Oh, The Places I Should Go!


Blog:  Mo Travels (Monique Rubin)
Twitter:  @Monique_Rubin
Carnival Post:  5 Places On My Travel Bucketlist


Blog:  Absolute Travel Addict (April D. Thompson)
Twitter:  @AbsoluteADT
Carnival Post:  Five Destinations On My Travel Bucket List



  • Johnny Normark Friskilä

    Mocambique and Madagascar are high on my list too, not sure it could be done next year, but who knows. I really should take a year or two and focus on Africa.

  • so true !
    visit unec at the university of nigeria

  • @Carol – Haha, thanks!

    @Sharee – Hope your sister is feeling better and recovering nicely. Would love to go to the Maldives as well.

  • I enjoyed your list of coincidental “M” destinations. Malaysia would be on my list for sure. Though not in top 5, it’s up there. I hated that my sister and I didn’t participate in the blog carnival as before, but family comes first. My sister is just coming home from surgery last week. When she’s well, believe me, we’ll be back to our jetsetting ways. Tops on our list- Madrid, Spain; Dubai; Paris; London; and Maldives.

  • So true, Lola! The list is never ending…and yours is awesome : ) I see so many here I want to add to mine now!

  • @Ellen – I hope so too! It’s only a matter of time 🙂

    @Amanda – Wow, I’d definitely be avoiding it too during SARS. Looking forward to finally meeting you in Dublin!

    @Theresa – Now you’ve piqued my interest about why you guys didn’t like Mozambique! I’m so curious.

    @meandmypassport – Could be a cool TV series. Traveling through countries starting with the same letter and pulling out unusual similarities.

    @InsideJourneys – Thanks! This theme has done nothing to quell my wanderlust.

    @Tracey (OneBrownGirl) – Yay!! See you in Toronto too by God’s grace

    @Monique – Ooooo…I want to read some write-ups about that experience! Will go check your blog stat!

    @Chelle – Half Nigerian/Half Mongolian? Now, that’s a mix! We Nigerians are everywhere 🙂

    @Aliah – Thanks so much 🙂

    @Tawanna – Haha, exactly!

    @Esohe – Seriously lady, we need to travel together again…with both babies in tow! I’ll be down for that.

    @Oneika – I totally hear you on all accounts! Can’t wait to explore these countries soon.

    @Richard – Thanks Richard! I hope so too. Thanks for the suggestion.

    @Heather – Ha! We shall see. I’m usually not scared of primates like that, but after watching them jumping in slow motion on two-feet towards the screen on a TV show with those bulging yellow eyes, I was like “Heck no!”.

    @Robin – Yes, there’s a horse festival there and all the photos have seen over the years have been pushing Mongolia further up my list.

    @Monica-USA – Hahahaha! I need to try the Swedish alphabet list. Now that would be odd. I hope you make it to Sweden soon. We’ll welcome you with open arms.

    @Janice – Thanks!

    @April – Would love portraits too! Yeh, those lemurs are something.

  • Would love to see portraits from all destinations on your ‘M’ list and I think you have cemented a place for Malaysia on my list! And I’m with you on the lemurs. I’ve never seen one in real life, but they are a bit creepy in pics.

  • Lola I love your M list. Those are very intriguing places.

  • Monica-USA

    Sounds like you will be traveling to every destinations through the alphabet but the question is would be the American alphabet or the Swedish alphabet? 🙂 The many places sound amazing I have only been to Germany twice I hope someday maybe Sweden will be next. Your pictures are lovely as always. Happy Adventuring!!

  • I think I’m with everyone else on your Mongolia pick. All of your selections have a mystical or mysterious air about them, to carry on your alliteration. Isn’t there a great horse festival that takes place in Mongolia? I bet that would yield some gorgeous photos.

  • I’m in love with the Indian Ocean too. It is by far my favourite. And don’t fear the lemurs! We did interactions with them in Portugal and Miami. They’re good people those lemurs. 😉

  • Great list of countries starting with “M”. Hope you can travel there as soon as possible. Malaysia is one of best country in Asia that has 10 great island you must visit such as Tioman: An island for flashpackers.

  • How coincidental that all your destinations begin with M! I think that sometimes we get a little manic when it comes to topping our travel experiences, as though there’s some unofficial barometer within all of us that beckons to constantly measure our ‘travel success’. The nature of being a travel writer and/or someone who travels frequently, however, is that you’ll often be asked of offer your ‘top 10s’ or ‘best’ travel adventures — it’s a point of reference for those wanting to plan a trip with limited time and resources. Selfishly I hope you make it to Madagascar and Mongolia as I’d love to see your pics!

  • Esohe

    Awesome list, I would love to visit these countries as well. I did Malaysia and geez did I indulge in the food or what; I recommend it. Mongolia will be fantastic to explore

  • The M’s are awesome! Madagascar is on my secondary list of places. And I love love love Southeast Asian foods as well -maybe I need to look into Malaysia. Hmmm…see, this is how it all begins.

  • Your photo speaks volumes alone…thanks for sharing your list of coincidental M places! I agree Malaysia seems magical. Definitely on my bucket list…so much of the world to see! I keep telling myself to be patient, grasshopper 🙂

  • Hi Lola,

    Thanks for joining the blog carnival. I love your M’s … While they’re all pretty enticing, I’m really curious about Mongolia. I have recently listened to a few Mongolian fusion musicians and met a guy here in Chicago who’s half Mongolian/half Nigerian. His stories were so intriguing.

    This really has been fun … but now my wanderlust is on steroids! I might need a week or two to come down off all this excitement. LOL. Or maybe I should indulge it and book a ticket. LOL.

  • Looks like a little love affair with places that start with “M”. 🙂 Great list. Though it didn’t make my list, I’m also curious about Montenegro. And that thing about lounging on the beach eating freshly caught fish in Mozambique, I’ve done that, and highly recommend it.

    Thanks for participating in the carnival.

  • Thanks for joining the Carnival, Lola!
    Of course, there isn’t anywhere on your list that I wouldn’t go, although those lemurs are certainly giving me pause.
    See you in Toronto!

  • First, I love that your places all start with the letter ‘M’ — my favorite letter of the alphabet.
    Mozambique’s on my list and I added Montenegro recently after watching Casino Royale for the millionth time! As someone with wanderlust, the nomadic lifestyle of Mongolians sounds perfect.

  • Great list! I wouldn’t say no to any :-), but Mozambique and Malaysia sound particularly lovely.

  • Interesting list. Mongolia has been high on my list for a while, but it’s definitely a destination that I think requires a lot of time to really explore, so I’m not at the right place in my life for it at the moment. And eating your way around Malaysia sounds fantastic. I still have random cravings for roti canai from Malaysia—so simple but so delicious. The only one of your destinations I’m not really on-board with is Mozambique. I still have trouble articulating exactly why, but both Jeff and I rank Mozambique as our least favorite country we have visited. We had some enjoyable experiences while there, but overall we were quite happy to leave Mozambique behind.

  • Lovely list, Lola!

    I’ve wanted to go to Mongolia ever since I “nearly” went (was booked on Trans-Mongolian, but needed to get to Hong Kong to then travel through China to start, and it was the time of SARS – all flights from here to Hong Kong were cancelled and I ended up starting the Trans-Siberian in Vladivostok instead – also lovely!).

    And I heading to Malaysia early next year with a friend and her son (and mine, of course!). Can’t wait as she grew up there and will be really making sure we get beneath the surface.

  • Lola,

    I love this idea and that all your destinations start with ‘M’. I spent one day in Montenegro last year and have been itchin’ to return ever since. It went straight to my heart.

    Right there with you on Malaysia (as tasty a place as you imagine) and Mongolia – also on my Wanderlist.

    Hope our paths cross someday out there exploring.

    Warmest regards,