If you are lucky to be in Africa, be prepared for the myriad of options to enjoy your colourful stay.
If you want to see animals in their natural habitat, go to the bush; if you are into beautiful scenery, go hiking and trekking in the gorgeous and, at times, tough terrain. Spend sunny days lazing on the magnificent beaches and take the time to explore the beauty, excitement and incredible diversity of Africa.
Head to the bush
To go on ‘Safari’ means ‘to journey’ in Swahili, and is one of the main reasons people travel to Africa. The most popular safari destinations are east and southern Africa. If you decide to explore East Africa, you can see the Big Five, witness the annual migration of millions of wildebeest in a hot-air balloon, and also track gorillas. If you decide to go for Southern Africa, you are sure to see the Big Five and all the other incredible animals, on foot and in the water.
Sleep on the beach
European sun seekers have been attracted to North Africa’s beach resorts for their sun-kissed beauty and stunning oceans. If you want something quieter, then head south. Offering accommodation for everyone, Africa’s east coast has budget huts on the balmy Indian Ocean in Zanzibar to swanky islands in the Seychelles. Lined with many miles of palm-fringed beaches, Africa’s west coast make swimming a little challenging at times, but the surfing is really awesome. If you fancy a date with penguins or braving the depths of the oceans to dive with sharks, then South Africa is waiting for you.
Put on your hiking boots
Africa offers wonderful hiking and trekking opportunities; the obvious targets for mountain lovers are Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and the Atlas Mountains. But South Africa’s Drakensberg Mountains are an absolute delight for a half-day hike, or a five-day trek. Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains and Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains are less known, but boast several of Africa’s highest peaks.
Be in the moment and cycle
Cycling vacations in Africa are becoming very popular. Of course, it’s a great eco-friendly to experience rural Africa. Riding a bike does not put up the same economic and social barriers as driving around in a car. Biking also lets you see, hear, and experience Africa – at her pace. Whether you want the thrill of across continent-cycling adventure or you just want to spend half a day exploring Cape Town, there’s an African bike tour that’s perfect for you.
Volunteer and make a difference
Volunteering in Africa lets you scratch below the surface and gain an appreciation of cultures very different from your own. Spending time teaching, working and living alongside a community also leads to a deeper self-understanding and awareness of what you take for granted and what you should appreciate back home. It’s a great way to experience Africa at a level beyond a consumer or voyeur.
Go back to your roots
The evolution of man starts in Africa and Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania is a great destination for anyone interested in our bipedal ancestors. A few million years later, the San in southern Africa were adorning caves with magnificent paintings. The Egyptians are a 5 000-year-old civilisation, and theirmonuments and tombs still stand today. During Medieval times, the great cities of Fez, Marrakech and Timbuktu were in their prime and can still be enjoyed today.
Africa is a place made for adventure. Victoria Falls prides itself on being the extreme adventure capital of Africa. Where else can you bungee off a bridge, swim up to the edge of the world’s largest waterfall, micro-light over the falls, white-water raft down some of the wildest rapids on Earth, and then call it a day by having a beer and lifting your glass to a pod of hippos and crocs living in the Zambezi river?
The retail experience
Visiting markets and bazaars in Africa is a wonderful way to see local artisans at work and get a good insight into a country’s culture, food, smells and sounds. Markets and bazaars also provide fantastic photo opportunities. Get your bargaining skills on and you’ll discover how much fun it is to buy tourist trinkets, and help the local economy while you’re at it. Whether you’re losing yourself in the medina of Fez in Morocco, or checking out the latest high-life CD’s in Accra’s Makola, you’ll love the experience.
Culinary tours to Africa offer a tasty combination of culture and history and usually involve hands-on cooking, dining at fine restaurants, wine tasting and shopping for ingredients at local markets. In Africa, most culinary tours concentrate on Morocco and South Africa. Whatever African country you are visiting, do try the local food. Even street food is safe, as long as you stick to the cooked items. In rural areas, ask if you can help pound and prepare for a basic meal – it will be a great experience.
With thousands of ethnic groups in Africa each celebrating their own rites of passage, religious festivals, and local harvests, there’s generally music and food being shared on any given night of any given week. There are several large festivals and cultural events that happen annually, where you can enjoy film, poetry, drama and, of course music, in an organised setting. If sports is more your thing, then definitely try and watch a local soccer match.