The road to Lake Turkana, Kenya

About me: I’m Christopher Vourlias, a 33-year-old, Brooklyn-born travel writer, currently based out of a backpack in West Africa. This Is Africa is a place to post my thoughts on the big, complex, woefully misunderstood continent I’ve called home for the past few years. I don’t update this site as often as I should; but when I do, boy oh boy, do I have a lot to say.

My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Variety, Harper’s, National Geographic Traveler, and countless other publications. You can reach me at christopher.vourlias@gmail.com.

26 responses to “About

  1. Hi Chris,

    Logging into my TravelBlog account and seeing that you had published a new blog used to be the highlight of my week; I’d always put my work to one side and run to make a cup of coffee before starting to read them. Your Spanish and Middle Eastern articles were well-crafted and vivid – your African ones are more complete still, with conscience, history and emotions woven into the narrative. I really enjoy them.

    I hope the WordPress transition brings you yet more readers and opportunities. All the best with your career – and safe, rewarding travels…


  2. Dear Chris,
    Liz Nagle is sitting beside me at Kiva fellows training. She says ‘oh my gosh, my friend is in Burundi.’ Sent me your blog cause I’ll be there in a few weeks until June. Send me a note, I’d love to make a new friend in Buja.

  3. I love Argentina! lol can’t wait for that blog

    I also enjoy your Africa blog. You’ve been there for so long. wow. It seems very exciting.

  4. Hi Chris,

    Your blog is hilarious,i am roaring with laughter.I am from Burundi originally and i can relate to this blog so much more than any other blogs out there. It is the sad state of affairs yet your wit makes it funny but realistic without being condescending like most media sources.
    Keep it up, hope you enjoy the experience.

  5. Hi

    I came across your blog through Africa Is A Country and it’s pretty cool. How come there is no way of subscribing to blog posts or following? Is there something I’ve missed?


  6. How do you finance your stay in Africa?

  7. Along with blogging, I also write professionally. It’s not necessarily enough of an income to live it up in, say, London, but I manage to pick up enough freelance work to get by in the developing world.

  8. Hi Chris,

    I am a graduate student (just finishing up my journalism degree actually) at the University of Missouri, and I would love one day to be doing the kind of travel writing you are doing. My graduate research right now, actually is on travel writing in East Africa, and I am wondering if I could ask you for a bit of help.

    Your story “At Home in Zanzibar” that you did for the Washington Post last year was so interesting to me, the way you explored your position between two cultures so openly in the text. This is very much what my research is about, too.

    Would you have some time to maybe answer some questions about it for me? As your blog tells me, you are probably not reachable by telephone, but maybe I can ask you over email?

    I am so interested in how travel writers do what they do, and I would love the opportunity to pick your brain!

    Let me know what you think—I would be so very grateful for your help and insight. I’m reachable by email at katlinchadwick@gmail.com

    Thank you and safe travels!!

  9. thanx for your blog! is wonderful. Take good care of you and keep writting!

  10. Fred Kristiansson

    Hi Kris,

    I am making a documentary about the Rwandan reconciliation process and am going to Kigali this summer. I found your blog about your travels in Africa which was honnestly amazing.

    Do you have a private email adress where I could send you a few questions?

    Best Regards,

    Fred Kristiansson

  11. Marita Stenersen

    Hi Chris!

    I’m doing a school project about Rwanda, and I would like to use the picture you have in your blog: a man carrying what looks like a dead child, under it it says Rwanda 1994. Where did you get the picture, do you know who took it and do you know what organization the man in the picture is working for?

    – Marita

  12. Barbara Soloski Albin

    Chris, Have you heard anything more about the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and filming?Information in the United States is non forth coming. I thought maybe through the grapevine, or whatever it is called in Africa, you might have heard something? thanks, Barbara

  13. Just wanted to let you know that you have a reader. Add me to the stacks. I’m just another white girl in Kigali so there is not much of a story here (or at least not one you haven’t already told) but I’ve been reading your stuff since about May and I kind of can’t get enough of it. I’ve even gone way back into the archives and have most of the time wished it was a book so I could read it someplace where I didn’t fulfill a stereotype (aka, anywhere but on my laptop at Bourban). Work on that. I wanted to thank you for writing something readable about Africa. I’m thrilled to have found truth here, and truth that strays from the ever-popular extremes of “Africa is nothing but poverty and war” and “Africa is nothing but happy children and beautiful scenery”. You tell it like you see it, and you see it through well-informed eyes. I find myself totally identifying with your desire to feel upset and confused about the dilemma that is “Africa” and you’re inability to truly express that without serious guilt and self-deprication. Who the hell are we to complain that we don’t know how we should or could change what we know has to change? It’s not like we’re the ones who’re personally struggling. And even more so, who the hell are we to be the ones that change things? But I love that you spell out your feelings for this continent, whether you’re intoxicated by it’s beauty or fed up with it’s corruption. And I’m thankful that for whatever reason, you’re still here, and you’re still writing about it. It’s kind of saving my life, to be dramatic.

    On another note, I’m incredibly upset over two things. 1. That you left Rwanda before I could hunt you down and make you tell me more stories (take that comment in the least creepy way possible), and 2. That you’re in Joburg and I’m not, or at least won’t be until Christmas. So keep writing. It might drive me crazy with jealousy but at least I can live vicariously through you. Thanks.


  14. Pingback: On the road in Rwanda – Kigali Wire

  15. max kistler, munich,germany

    just great, true and entertainig!

  16. Good afternoon

    I am writing to you as a last ditch attempt to raise some awareness to the situation my family is currently enduring.

    My parents were forcibly evicted from their home two years ago by an illegal settler who used a falsified offer letter to gain access to the property ( which is classified as residential property with in the city of Harare). My father has been involved in two high court cases, both of which were bought by this illegal settler. on both occasions my father gained successful judgements which stated that this settler should leave the property for my family to return.

    To date absolutely no action has been taken against this settler, as it now turns out she is related somehow to the secretary for the minister of lands.

    As I’m sure you can appreciate we’re all entirely flabbergasted by the fact that the high court system of a nation can be made null and void because someone in an office of authority has a cousin who fancies some free land.

    I am not sure where to turn or where to go, but I definitely feel that this story warrants some attention to possibly shed some light on the levels of corruption taking place in Zimbabwe.

    My family have been without a home or an income for the last two years because someone has illegally managed to worm their way on to the property without hinderance, or interference by the law.

    I am not sure what i hope to achieve by getting this story out in the open but it’s the only thing I feel I am capable of doing.

    Yours sincerely

  17. Melinda Binks

    Hi Chris,

    I’m working on a small video about women in Burundi and microfinance. I need to reference the war, but obviously as I was just there in January, things were quiet. I noticed you have some photos on your site from that time. Wondering if I can use and credit you? Thanks,


  18. Sure, Melinda – it’d be my pleasure to help out!

  19. Hi Chris,
    Following your tweets about situation in Burkina. Saw your need for a translator but couldn’t DM you on Twitter. I’m married to a Burkinabe with fam in Ouaga. My bro-in-law could be interested in helping out. Let me know if you want the contact.


  20. Pingback: Scarlett Lion | Andrea Frazzetta’s photos of Fespaco

  21. hi chris, longtime peruser/first time poster here…hope all is going well in Ghana…I need a quick favour related to your blog (not a commission sorry!)…I think you have my phone no. to send an SMS from Accra as its kind of urgent…(I’ll call you back) – alternatively you can email your tel no. if possible. Anyways talk in a short while i hope,

    PS: It’s ‘Steve’ from Ouaga here

  22. Hi mate, good to hear from you. Ca fait deux jours! I’m afraid I lost your number – no idea where my Burkina SIM is. Also, I left Ghana a couple of weeks ago and am currently in South Africa. Not sure how you want to contact me. Email is christopher.vourlias@gmail.com. Phone is +27 717 494 908. Hope all is well on your end.


  23. Alan von Hohenberg-Balladur

    Chris, blog
    I came across your blog by accident and found an entry in your blog while in Goma referring to a “Joseph” who was trying to figure out how to make aid work in Africa. I have been working on that for a while. I was born near Bunia and my family had a plantation overlooking Lake Kivu (my grandfather was a magistrate in Bukavu). I served in the SADF during the Angolan war and have spent the last 6 years working in Angola with a view to returning to the Kivu. Do you have a contact for Joseph as I would like to discuss this problem which sometimes seems insoluble. My email is anvhb@aol.com

  24. A great blog full of entertaining yet meaningful content, and a high standard my own meager travel-related aspirations. Great job!

  25. Barbara Soloski Albin

    Dear Chris,
    Keep sending me your stories, this one today, left me with a sickly feeling but that is life! Hope you are doing well, take care of yourself and always be safe, first. Barbara Albin

  26. Hi, TIA, I’m also an American…from a few places, last one was New York. I first heard about “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” while working in Botswana almost five years ago. I’ve been wondering what became of it, googled, and somehow through a few clicks got to this blog randomly. Now that I’ve been living in Pretoria/Joburg, I’ve really enjoyed reading your entries on RSA, specifically Africa’s El Dorado. I do hope you’ll get to travel within RSA and write about the other major cities and smaller towns too. They are so different from Pretoria and Jozi that sometimes I wonder if I’ve been traveling around to different countries. This is probably the same feeling us Americans would have when traveling outside the tri-state area. Keep up the great visually stunning writing! I’ll definitely be reading.

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