Why Travel To Africa?
Fifty-four separate countries. One large continent. A smorgasbord of landscapes and cultures, extending from South Africa’s southernmost gem of Cape Town to Egypt’s chaotic magnificence of Cairo. This is Africa, and we look forward to welcoming you here!
The African continent is one travel destination where your camera should always be at the ready. Take Kenya, for example, which tops most people’s African country bucket list according to research by Hoppa: the country’s diverse scenery stretches from savannah and lakelands to the Great Rift Valley, with reserves such as the Maasai Mara being famous for its annual wildebeest migrations and Amboseli National Park offering sightings of Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro – a popular summit for the brave and athletic. Then there’s Cape Town, which tops the African city bucket list in the same survey, with its gorgeous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, the shopping mecca of the V&A Waterfront, golden beaches and top-class restaurants which stock local wines from the Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Constantia vinyards, among others, and refreshing craft beers for those warm summer days.
This is the only continent in the world where you can go on safari to see the majestic Big Five, consisting of lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo in their natural habitat. Further north, the pyramids are steeped in ancient Egyptian mythology; and you’ll wonder just how they moved such massive stone blocks across the desert, in the times without construction vehicles, simply by wetting the sand in front of a giant sled to prevent friction. Another “wow” experience is “the smoke that thunders” aka the mighty Victoria Falls, where you can bungee off a bridge, attempt some high-risk white water rafting or simply stare down into the abyss where that massive volume of water flows. From such lush areas, travel south and stand spellbound as you encounter the Namib, the world’s oldest desert, with its extreme starkness and orange-hued sands. Wander the bazaars of Morocco, go cave-crawling in Oudtshoorn’s Cango Caves. And this is just touching on what’s out there to do and see in Africa. Add the outgoing people with their range of unique languages and cultures and the abundant new foodie experiences – South African potjiekos, Namibian braaied game, Zanzibari biryani, hot Indian bunnychow or spicy Mozanbican prawns – and you’ll want to be extending your trip for a week or much more.
If self-drive is your preferred way to travel once touching down, a good place to land is Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, which is generally considered the gateway to the rest of what Africa offers. Book into reputable and comfortable accommodation, such as the family-friendly Arebbusch Travel Lodge, where you can choose from bed and breakfast or self-catering units – or even a luxury tent, to get into the spirit of camping for the adventure that lies ahead. There are numerous companies you can task with preparing your road trip, which should include an insured 4×4 vehicle fitted with GPS, an itinerary, map and recommended places to stay en route. Notable sights to visit and photograph as you traverse further north include:
- the breathtaking reds and oranges of the Sossusvlei sand dunes;
- the beach vibe of Swakopmund, perched on the very edge of the Namib’s arid plains;
- the stark rock landscapes of Spitzkoppe;
- Etosha National Park’s spectacular game viewing, where even the shy leopard may be spotted on occasion; and
- Waterberg Plateau’s extensive metorite – the Hoba – which is apparently the world’s largest.
While each African country offers its own unique combination of sights, scenes, historical facts and cultural pointers, two aspects are commonly noted by first-time travellers: the people are incredibly friendly, open and engaging; and the favourable exchange rate versus the US dollar or Euro means the average middle-class traveller can opt for a combo of accommodation types, that range from very rough camping to highend five-star guesthouses with all the trimmings.
So when you’re next toying with the idea of booking an exciting and dynamic trip that provides something very different from traditional city life at home, give some thought to the mighty continent that is Africa.
TOP TIPS FOR AFRICAN TRAVELS
- Be sure you have the required visa for each country;
- Have the recommended shots before you go;
- Drink bottled water as a rule (the tap water is generally safe in Cape Town);
- Get a trusted local, such as a friend or your hotel manager, to inform you of their favourite hangouts and to let you know what is considered safe to do and what to be wary of;
- Try an Airbnb rather than a hotel every so often, so you have more cash for eating out, cultural events and gifts for those back home;
- US dollars and a Visa/Mastercard are widely accepted;
- Make sure you have the right plugs for each of your electrical devices;
- Google the recommended festivals and special events at each place you’re staying so you don’t miss anything special or spectacular; and
- Share your experiences on social media to encourage other global travellers to visit, too.