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For hundreds of years, a Grand Safari tour of Africa has marked the epitome of adventure for the well-heeled and bold. Sate your wanderlust on a whirlwind journey into the heart of the world’s second-largest continent. While Africa remains no less romantic and exotic than ever, tremendous advances in transportation and the encroachment of modern technology have made tourism more accessible and comfortable than in days of old. Once isolated and wild, sleepy Africa is gradually awakening to the world tourism. Indulgent resort-style vacation opportunities exist alongside the spartan camp-tent treks of old, affording the more enjoyable outdoor experiences with all the comforts and pampering of mainstream travel.

Perhaps the most surprising and enjoyable facet of Africa is its diversity. From the culture of its people to the natural landscape, Africa’s vastness is reflected in the tremendous range of variety to be found there. Africa’s boundaries contain both the world’s largest free-standing mountain (Mt. Kilimanjaro), and the Djibouti's Lake Assal, the second-lowest place on Earth. The saltiest lake outside Antarctica is here, as well as the hottest place on the globe. The cradle of human civilization can be traced to Africa, as can thousands of years of history that came after: the pyramids of Egypt, the Roman theater of Libya, and Old Mogadishu all stand witness to the passage of time. From the vast wilderness of the Serengeti or the salt pans to the bustling, modern cities of South Africa, just about every degree of life is represented.

Your modern-day African adventure will encompass all sorts of diversions, from camping beneath the stars, white-water rafting, hot air balloon safaris, and jungle treks to fine dining and exploring world-class museums. Natural wonders, manmade marvels, and a dizzying assortment of animal life await you here. Africa’s a big place, and visiting everything it has to offer is well outside the ability of any one traveler. Rest assured, though, that anywhere you go, you are guaranteed a voyage you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Africa Top Sights

Kenya

The game parks of Kenya set the standard for exotic beauty. Prominent among them are Masai Mara, which is contiguous with Tanzania’s Serengeti, and the storied Nairobi National Park. Lions, cheetah, and leopards abound in Masai Mara, which is also famous for fantastic viewing of the annual wildebeest migration. Perhaps the best way to experience this extraordinary movement is above, by hot air balloon! Nairobi is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa, in addition to the home of the eponymous national park. Dance all night in the bustling Westlands district, where both expats and locals come to party, or bargain for treasures at the hectic and colorful Maasai market. Another must-see: Sibiloi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of tremendous archaeological significance for the discoveries it has yielded towards our understanding of the origin of man.

Madagascar

A world of curious, but undeniable charm awaits you in Madagascar. You’ll come face-to-face with the most famous Malagasy residents: lemurs! There’s nearly a hundred different species of these quirky cuties, the stars of the show on any jungle trek. Take a sunset cruise in a pirogue while staying in “Tana,” the capital, and tour the hilltop palace of Ambohimanga. World-class snorkeling and sunbathing can be found on the island getaway of Nosy Be, as well as tours of ylang-ylang plantations fragrant with the intoxicating perfume of a million golden blossoms. The old royal city of Fianarantsoa features exquisite Arabian minarets and winding alleys reminiscent of hand-tinted picture postcards. Wine tours and shopping the historic market are prominent attractions here. Then ascend to the strange, compelling limestone peaks of Tsingy de Bemaraha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site distinguished by untouched wilderness and fascinating ecotourism.

South Africa

Cosmopolitan, historic South Africa is riddled with cultural diversity and scenic loveliness. It is one of the most liberal areas of the continent, and a popular tourist destination. Cape Town derives its name from the original Portuguese name, “the cape of good hope,” and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Just about everything you could ever want in a vacation can be found in Cape Town: cable car rides to the top of Table Mountain, worshipping the sun from the sweeping beaches of False Bay, wine tasting, and deep sea fishing. Diverse, huge Johannesburg is richly steeped in history. Learn about gold mining (in which South Africa corners the world market), visit the old fort at the base of Constitution Hill, or pop in on the sleek beauties at Lion Park. You’ll want to watch your oranges in Addo Elephant National Park, in the Eastern Cape region, where the gentle giants for whom the preserve was named and created will snatch treats right from your car! A 4x4 tour of the park affords ample opportunities to view zebras, buffalo, leopards, and rhinos.

Tanzania

Tanzania is a real up-and-comer in the world tourism scene, and with good reason. The wilds of this equatorial paradise beckon with enormous game reserves, exciting safaris, and the promise of nights spent beneath the starriest skies you can imagine. The cauldron of Ngorongoro Crater is a singular marvel, a mixing bowl of tens of thousands of wild animals sheltered by the steep lip of the caldera. The highly endangered black rhino can be spotted here, along with lions and bull elephants. The endless plains of the Serengeti offer the chance to safari by car, foot, or hot air balloon! You can lunch beneath a shade tree and sneak a peek of zebra and wildebeest. There’s no better viewing spot of the Great Migration. Gaze upon the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, and brave a climb to the top. The ascent, while lengthy, is not especially demanding as far as mountain climbing goes—this makes it quite popular and widely accessible. Or escape to the spice island of Zanzibar, a paradise of sparkling seas and white sand located twenty-two miles off the mainland.

Botswana

Exclusive, luxurious, and unspoiled… there is nothing quite like Botswana. Private safari camps afford the chance to brush with wildlife from the lap of luxury. You’ll sip champagne within a traditionally-styled camp tent, and peek at giraffes and exotic birds while basking poolside beneath the Southern African sun. Encounter bushmen on the fringes of the vast Kalahari Desert, and scoop up hand-crafted treasures like seed jewelry and books of art. You’ll roast dinner over a roaring fire beneath the endless expanse of the night sky, forging new friendships and cementing old ones for a lifetime. Safaris of the Okavango Delta offer glimpses of meerkats, Nile crocodiles, lions, and hippos amidst stunning natural beauty. The vast, inhospitable salt pans of Makgadikgadi are the largest in the world. The dry savanna is home to ostriches, plovers, flamingos, and zebra, and off road tours by bike or quad vehicle are popular. On the opposite end of the topological spectrum is the verdant jewel of Chobe National Park, The “big 5” game species (elephants, lion, leopards, buffalo, and rhino) live here, and high-end safari lodges situated in in midst of the park give you the chance to get up-close and personal with these grassland superstars.

Zambia

It has been said that the closest thing to a taste of “real Africa” can be found in Zambia. While outstanding safaris, authentic tribal villages, and numerous cultural celebrations all beckon visitors, the real star of Zambian tourism is Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Called “the smoke that thunders,” the falls are both breathtakingly wide and precariously deep. Canoeing the peaceful waters above the falls and white-water rafting the turbulent rapids below both offer excellent opportunities to enjoy Vic Falls all day long. Plentiful food and drink and great company are hallmarks of either type of adventure. Sunset cruises of the Zambezi are romantic and lingering, a must-do activity for couples. Thrillseekers can bungee jump or gorge-swing with the natural advantage of the heights, or take a helicopter tour for a slightly less hair-raising aerial appreciation of the sights.

Quick Facts

Capital: Multiple
Primary Airports: OR Tambo International Airport (JNB), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Cape Town International Airport (CPT), Mohammed V International Airport (CNM)
Government: Multiple
Currency: Multiple
Population: 1,033,000,000 (2011 est.)
Language: Although there are many, many languages spoken in Africa, French is the closest thing to a default language. English is spoken in many areas as well.
Electricity: Varies country to country
Time Zone: UTC -1 to UTC +4
Africa

Africa Travel Reviews


Warm Heart of Africa

Darby Callahan

My teenage daughter and I shared an amazing adventure as we traveled to the African country of Malawi in order to do mission work during this past summer. The center of our stay was in the township of Mzuzu, the third largest city in Malawi. The people of Malawi are kind, gentle and helpful to strangers. During our stay we visited Lake Malawi, enjoying lunch at the Chintheche Inn right on the lake. My daughter and her friends enjoyed a game of volleyball while the rest of us took a long walk on the pristine beach. During our stay, we enjoyed a visit to an amazing animal reserve: Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Although it’s a tiny park, the reward here is great: we had incredible access to a large pod of hippos. (For an extra $10US you can get a guide to ride along with you: well worth the small expense.) One of the highlights of our trip was Liwonde National Park. Here we took a small boat out into the water where we had some close encounters with hippos. Our guide also managed to get the boat up close to a bull elephant that ended up charging our boat! After our heart rates got back down to normal, we shared a laugh and a big sigh of relief that he had not ventured out into the water after us! Malawi is a beautiful country with humble people, and it earns its nickname as the ‘warm heart of Africa’.

Trip Rating:
Destinations Visited: Malawi

History in Tunisia

JS

The history of Tunisia was amazing. Visiting Carthage was a plus. The whole safari drive across the dessert was incredible. Viewing the abodes of the peoples at that time and watching the skills they had with horses was amazing. It was also great to swim behind the boat we rented at the port.

Trip Rating:
Destinations Visited: Tunisia
Tour Operator: Solosholidays

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